MICROWAVE, the wonder box, the boon for ‘Busy Bees,’ acts as a savior with its convenient, comfortable, quick-cooking. It is an indispensable kitchen gadget. With the advances, microwaves have become more effective, considerably cheap, with multiple functions meeting the customers’ utmost demands. Although almost everyone uses microwave ovens for cooking, certain myths and facts about microwave ovens still confuse people.
What Is A Microwave Oven?
A microwave is a small electric metal enclosure, which cooks or heats the food using high-frequency electromagnetic radiations within the microwave frequency range. It has an acrylic enamel coating with light color paint for good visibility. A cavity magnetron in the microwave produce frequency of 2.45 GHz (wavelength of 12.2 cm) from the non-ionizing electromagnetic radiation by a process called dielectric heating.
How Does Microwave Oven Works?
The microwaves produced by the magnetron dash around the oven’s food compartment get absorbed by the water molecules in the food, causing them to vibrate. This continuous vibration creates friction between the molecules, resulting in heat. This heat or thermal energy cooks the food.
The cooking time and the cooking efficiency depend on the size of the food particles, the water content of the food, and the food ingredient mixture’s nature, namely heterogeneous or homogenous mixture. The food container is placed on a rotating top so that all the food is equally exposed to the microwaves helping in cooking food uniformly. The cooked food should rest for some time in the oven to avoid potential uneven cooking and to distribute the heat after it is cooked.
Glass and ceramic are the best and the safest to be used for microwaving. Plastic containers made with BPA, phthalates, polyvinyl chloride, and polycarbonate are harmful; while cooking, some chemicals may leach into the food and cause health threats like cancers. So, it is advisable to check for the ‘MICROWAVE SAFE’ instruction when choosing the container. Parchment papers, white paper plates are also used as containers or as a lid. Aluminum foil or foil containers may not be the excellent option to use as metal reflects the microwaves, and it may leave the food uncooked, or not reheat the food uniformly.
Myths And Facts About Microwave Ovens
Despite its benefits and ease of use, some myths and modified facts revolve around arising health concerns and safety issues. Let’s debunk these myths and get to the reality.
1. Nutrient Loss
It is a fact that cooking food, by any conventional method or microwave, depletes some nutritious food. Nutrients like vitamin C, vitamin B, etc., are lost due to heat exposure. In microwaving, the nutrient loss is comparatively less than conventional cooking as it cooks the food quickly, and there is less exposure of food to direct heat. It also helps to retain some antioxidants present in the food.
2. Radiation Harm
The microwave oven design makes sure to bar the radiation from being produced when the oven switches ON, and the door is sealed locked. The oven’s metal body also makes the microwaves reflect, enclosing the microwaves in the oven frame, securing no leakage. Also, the radiation produced by the microwave is non-ionizing and of a small wavelength, which poses no health threat unless exposed to it for very long continuous durations.
3. Food Safety
The use of hygienic cooking practices reduces the risk of food contamination. It is advisable to thoroughly defrost the food before cooking as it will avoid the risk of uneven cooking. The microwave cooks the food using dielectric heating. So, it is the heat that cooks the food, not the radiation. Hence, the food is safe to consume, and it does not become radioactive.
4. Personal Safety
Ensuring safety is imperative irrespective of the cooking method. Accidental thermal burns may occur if precautions and utmost care is not taken while handling the microwave. Hence, it is of prime importance that you must read the cooking and safety instructions properly before using the microwave for the first time. Also, follow those set of instructions every time you use it.
Tips To Consider While Using Microwave Oven
- Keep a distance of approx 20-50 cm from the microwave oven.
- Check for the microwave door to be properly closed and sealed.
- Immediately repair or replace faulty microwave ovens.
- Keep the lid of the container open while microwaving.
- Do not operate an empty oven.
So as we know now that it is safe to use a microwave oven. Only that it should be used wisely, by following all the instructions and taking all the necessary precautions.