Is Microwaved Food Safe for My Family?
In recent years, many people have made the decision to eat healthier and improve their overall fitness. People are choosing to eat more nutritious foods that are prepared in a healthy way. Many are opting to bake, broil, grill, or steam foods, rather than frying them. Busy schedules and a need for convenience make microwaving a popular option. This quest for a healthier lifestyle has led some to wonder if microwaving food is dangerous. Do microwaves have an effect on the food's nutritional value? And, are "microwave safe" containers actually safe? According to most of the research reviewed for this article, microwave cooking and reheating potentially pose serious health hazards.
Can Food from the Microwave Hurt My Family?
There have been a number of studies on the effects of microwaving foods. The majority of these studies have concluded that microwaving food depletes its nutritional value. Researchers have found that cooking and reheating foods in the microwave degenerates vitamins and protein in foods and milk. In 1992, a study conducted at Stanford Medical School concluded that microwaving breast milk caused a loss in vitamins and immunological properties. In Vienna, a study proved that microwaving changes the amino acid L-proline into D-proline. D-proline is a toxin that damages the kidneys, liver, and central nervous system. A study in Spain showed that microwaved broccoli lost up to 97% of its antioxidants. In comparison, steamed broccoli lost only 11%. A study conducted by two Swiss scientists concluding that consuming microwaved foods caused significant changes in all hemoglobin values, including cholesterol and white blood cells, resulted in their conviction in 1993 of interfering with commerce (the conviction was later overturned). The Russians found microwaved food to be so dangerous that they banned microwaves in 1976 (also, later overturned). They associated dangerous microwaved food with decreased life vitality, digestive disorders, a higher percentage of cancerous cells in the bloodstream, malfunctions in the lymphatic system, and more.
These examples, and the fact that the U.S. FDA and EPA seem to be content with the assumption that non-ionizing (used for telephones, electricity, radio, cell phones, etc.) radiation is harmless, are proof that government considers big industry profits to be more important than human welfare. Norbert Hankin of the EPA's Center for Science and Risk Assessment, states "We don't have a solid position on the possible health risks from exposure to microwaves due to inconclusive research. The real question remains whether there could be cumulative effects." The FDA contends that microwave cooking has the same effects on foods as conventional cooking. To date, the FDA and EPA have focused mainly on the dangers of leaky microwave seals and overall leakage from microwave ovens. Leaky microwave seals should be replaced immediately. The agencies caution microwave users to stand away from the unit and not to look straight into the door while it is on.
Aside from the alterations to foods from microwaving, there are questions regarding the safety of the packaging. Recently, microwave popcorn bags were in the spotlight. Microwave meals, entrees, and side dishes are packaged in microwave safe containers. However, there are concerns of toxins leeching from containers that are labeled as safe. After all, it is the manufacturer that decides whether or not these containers are safe. It is best to use an approved glass or ceramic dish for cooking or reheating in the microwave.The decision to continue or discontinue using the microwave is, obviously, up to every individual. The facts are available for anyone interested in doing a little research.