Is Microwaving Paleo?
Cavemen clearly didn’t have microwaves but that isn’t necessarily a reason for us not to use microwaves.
Below, I judge microwaves using the same basic standards I judge foods: toxicity vs. nutrients.
Is Microwaving Toxic?
There are 2 main concerns here:
1. Is Microwave Radiation from a Microwave Oven Dangerous?
Microwaves are a form of radio waves and are naturally occurring (it’s a part of the electromagnetic spectrum).
Unlike some other forms of radiation (like x-rays and gamma rays), microwaves are not ionizing and have not been linked to cancer in the same way that high doses of x-rays and gamma rays have been.
In addition, very tiny amounts of microwave radiation ever escape from your modern microwave oven.
The oven is made of metal, which reflects the microwaves rather than letting it pass through its walls (hence why it’s bad to put anything metal into microwave oven). Even if there are small gaps in the seal around the microwave oven door, microwaves are of such long wavelengths that it’s highly improbable any microwaves will escape through those tiny gaps.
2. Does microwaving introduce radiation into my food?
Microwaves work by jiggling the water molecules in the food you’re heating. That’s why you shouldn’t ever microwave dry food (e.g., something that’s been dehydrated).
Once the microwave is switched off, there’s no residual radiation in the oven or in your food.
Does Microwaving Cause My Food to Lose Nutrients?
Cooking any food using any method will cause the nutrients available in the food to change. As I explained in this YouTube video:
cooking your food does decrease the amount of nutrients in your food a bit but also often makes the existing nutrients more bioavailable (i.e., it’s in a more available form) for your body than before you cooked it.
So, now that we’ve established that cooking food doesn’t necessarily make it less nutritious at all, how does microwaving compare with other forms of cooking in terms of decreasing nutrients in the food?
Actually, microwaving is pretty good for keeping nutrients in your food!
The studies are not conclusive on this yet, but this 1982 review concludes that: “no significant nutritional differences exist between foods prepared by conventional and microwave methods.”
As for why microwaving is so good at retaining nutrients in the food, both Mark and Chris point to the short cooking time and the fact that you typically don’t add any additional water to the food (which often carries away any water-soluble vitamins and minerals).
Is Microwaving Paleo?
Although not something used by our ancestors, there’s nothing to suggest that microwaving would be that bad for us.
And if microwaving helps you to stick to Paleo, then it’s probably very good for you!
How do you feel about cooking with the microwave? Is it healthy or toxic? Let us know in the comments below.