Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Living in a “Microwave Generation”….

We’ve often been referred to as the “microwave generation” …as in we want things/results right NOW!! (or yesterday, preferably.) Totally true.

But let’s talk for just a minute about the microwave. Not the metaphor, the real thing. I use my microwave to heat up water for my hot green tea, to heat up canned veggies & soup, and to heat up leftovers. I am even guilty of making my steel cut oats (which I’m pretty sure you’re supposed to cook for hours) in the microwave for a minute. It’s way faster, easier, and more convenient.

As a kid/teenager, I used to use the microwave substantially more than I do now. For pizza rolls, frozen lunches/dinners, min pizzas, cheese dip, chicken nuggets, frozen burritos, Ramen noodle cups, etc. Looking back, almost everything I used the microwave for was something processed I didn’t need to be eating in the first place.

{Really, who didn’t grow up eating a Kid Cuisine or two?}

Here’s the deal though. Although they are convenient (really, it wouldn’t be THAT much more work for me to just use the stove!), there are definitely some negative aspects of using the microwave that we need to consider. Obviously raw foods are ideal, and I know there will be times we NEED to use the microwave….but I just want to be more aware and start limiting my use of it as much as possible. There are TONS and tons of reasons and lots of research talking about the dangers and hazards of using a microwave. I’m not even going to get into all that….I’m just going to share the most basic one.

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 It ZAPS the nutrients right out of your food!!

I believe in eating real, whole foods. I LOVE vegetables!!!! However, if I use the microwave to prepare them, I’m defeating the purpose of eating them for the nutritional benefits. Here’s some info I found for my fellow nerd friends who care about some of the science behind that:

  • A study published in the November 2003 issue of The Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture[5] found that broccoli "zapped" in the microwave with a little water lost up to 97 percent of its beneficial antioxidants. By comparison, steamed broccoli lost 11 percent or fewer of its antioxidants. There were also reductions in phenolic compounds and glucosinolates, but mineral levels remained intact.
  • A 1999 Scandinavian study of the cooking of asparagus spears found that microwaving caused a reduction in vitamin C[6] .
  • In a study of garlic, as little as 60 seconds of microwave heating was enough to inactivate its allinase, garlic's principle active ingredient against cancer[7] .
  • A Japanese study by Watanabe showed that just 6 minutes of microwave heating turned 30-40 percent of the B12 in milk into an inert (dead) form[8] . This study has been cited by Dr. Andrew Weil as evidence supporting his concerns about the effects of microwaving. Dr. Weil wrote:
  • "There may be dangers associated with microwaving food... there is a question as to whether microwaving alters protein chemistry in ways that might be harmful."
  • A recent Australian study[9] showed that microwaves cause a higher degree of "protein unfolding" than conventional heating.
  • Microwaving can destroy the essential disease-fighting agents in breast milk that offer protection for your baby. In 1992, Quan found that microwaved breast milk lost lysozyme activity, antibodies, and fostered the growth of more potentially pathogenic bacteria[10] .


Here’s another article with lots of info.

What really got me thinking about this is one of my friends who is studying to be a clinical herbologist. She is really smart and very into nutrition and a hollistic approach to health. She told me about an experiment she read about in which a girl had 3 plants. She didn’t water one at all. The other she boiled water on the stove and watered the plant with that. She watered the third plant with water she heated up in the microwave. The plant without water survived, but didn’t thrive. The plant with the water from the stove grew, nice and healthy. The third plant with the microwaved water didn’t make it. (The water temp is not significant….it’s the point the microwave “killed” the water.) Interesting, right?

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Like I said, I am not going to throw my microwave in the dumpster or anything. I just want to be more aware and not be lazy in using it….It’s worth the extra 5 minutes to use the stove instead. And I DEFINITELY want to teach my kids about eating REAL, WHOLE foods.

So, if you’re still not sold….google “microwave meals.” Really, does THAT look appetizing??


Even if you aren’t a veggie or fish person, I KNOW you have to agree those second two pictures look WAY more appetizing, right??


Kara Tate said...

I love this post! I, too, am guilty of using the microwave more often than I should. In fact, I used it last night to "bake" my sweet potato. However, I really liked your friend's study with the plants. Very interesting!

Miq said...

I was amazed when I was staying at friend's house in the States and she said I should microwave water to make tea! It's really common where I've always lived (New Zealand & Australia) to have an electric jug to boil water for hot drinks. We have a stainless steel one so no nasty plastic chemicals. Might be worth looking for one :)

FoodFaithFitness said...

I only cook my oats in the micro. I couldn't imagine eating anything else that has been cooked in there! Ew!

Kelly said...

I just found your blog and am loving it. I'm really into to learning about and eating cleaner. I'm thinking about trying the 24 day challenge after the first of the year. What are your thoughts on Annie's Microwave meals?