Microwave: Is it safe?

By Dr. Joseph Mercola
with Rachael Droege

Sure, the microwave is convenient; what other device allows you to heat your food up in a matter of seconds? And they’re so widely used that you’d be hard-pressed to find a gas station or office building without one. But there’s a reason why I haven’t had a microwave in my kitchen for over 15 years and–much to the distress of my employees–pulled it out of the office over three years ago. This is something that you likely already intrinsically suspect but don’t want to acknowledge due to the convenience factor–microwaves are bad for your food, and they’re even worse for you.

There are many concerns with microwave ovens, among them:

  • Carcinogenic toxins could be leached from plastic or paper plates or covers and mix with your food.
  • The food temperature may become extremely hot, at temperatures high enough to cause burns or steam buildup that could explode–this is especially problematic for baby bottles, and is one of the reasons why baby bottles should never be heated in the microwave (microwaving can also break down the disease-fighting ability of breast milk).
  • Vegetables and other food lose valuable, cancer-fighting nutrients when cooked in the microwave.
  • The chemical structure of foods changes when microwaved, with unknown consequences.

There have been very few studies done to determine what kinds of changes occur in foods that are microwaved, but rest assured the changes are significant.

Consider the 1991 lawsuit involving a woman who had hip surgery and died because the blood used in her blood transfusion was warmed in a microwave. Blood is routinely warmed before transfusions, but not by microwave. The microwave altered the blood and it killed the woman.

Microwave cooking vibrates the molecules in your food to levels they were never designed to experience. This tends to damage the highly perishable nutrients so they are unable to nourish you the way they were designed to.

A study published in the November 2003 issue of The Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture found that broccoli “zapped” in the microwave with a little water lost up to 97 percent of the beneficial antioxidant chemicals it contains. By comparison, steamed broccoli lost 11 percent or fewer of its antioxidants.

Besides the loss of nutrients, microwaving forms new compounds (radiolytic compounds) that are unknown to humans and nature. It’s not yet known exactly what these compounds do in the human body. It will likely be a difficult thing to sort out, especially when there are previously unknown compounds being introduced to humans from a variety of sources such as new food products (i.e., olestra) and genetically modified foods.

Perhaps the most concrete evidence of the dangers of microwaves comes from Dr. Hans Hertel, a Swiss food scientist, who carried out a small but high-quality study on the effects of microwaved food on humans. His conclusions were clear and alarming: microwave cooking significantly altered the food’s nutrients enough so that changes occurred in the particpants’ blood–changes that suggested deterioration. The changes included:

  • Increased cholesterol levels
  • More leukocytes, or white blood cells, which can suggest poisoning
  • Decreased numbers of red blood cells
  • Production of radiolytic compounds (compounds unknown in nature)
  • Decreased hemoglobin levels, which could indicate anemic tendencies

So what can you do to avoid microwaves? Well, my first suggestion is to get rid of it in your home so you won’t be tempted to use it. If it’s not there, then you can’t use it! Then, try consuming a lot of your food raw. Ideally, at least one-third of the food in your diet should be raw, since this is the form that will give you the maximum amount of nutrients. A quick and easy way to consume a large amount of raw vegetables, which is generally great for your health, is by vegetable juicing.

If you do want to cook some food or heat up leftovers, and are panicking at the thought of not having a microwave, I highly recommend trying out the Turbo Oven.

Though I don’t cook most of my food, when I do I use the Turbo Oven. The Turbo Oven not only eliminates the need to cook with additional fats such as oil and butter, but it also prepares delicious and healthy meals that are full of nutrients in half the time of traditional ovens.

With the Turbo Oven, you can cook a whole chicken as quick as 45 minutes whereas a traditional oven could take you up to two hours. It also uses up to 80 percent less energy than standard ovens used in the home. So, you will not only reduce cooking time by 50 percent, but you will save money on energy costs too.

Of course, you can also opt to use your regular oven or stove. This may seem time-consuming at first, but you’ll soon adjust and may actually start to enjoy the natural time it takes to heat up or prepare your food. During this time, you can relax with your family, read, write, listen to music or do anything that will help you to slow down and prepare for the meal you’re about to enjoy.

You may notice that taking more time to prepare your food will transcend to other aspects of your life as well, and you’ll enjoy a slower, more relaxed lifestyle than the majority of those around you.

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