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  • Is reheating food in a microwave bad?

    This used to be my preferred method of reheating meats when I cook up a batch that i dont eat all at once... but I recall reading somewhere a while ago something about microwaves destroy much of the nutrient content when food is cooked in this way.... any real truth to this?

  • #2
    No, I don't think there's any truth to the "microwaves destroy nutrients" thing. Sure, some nutrients are degraded/lost, but that's true of any cooking method. From what I recall, microwaving actually preserves more nutrients in many cases.

    Anyway, the thing you want to avoid is heating things in plastic in the microwave. Some of the polymers and stuff from the plastic can be leached into the food. Heat aids the leaching. It is especially bad with fatty or acidic foods.

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    • #3
      No proven harms I know, but I dislike the texture so I use a convection toaster or double boil for most things.
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      • #4
        I'm thinking that when the early gas & electric cooking appliances came into use, people probably claimed that they were not healthy when compared to cooking over wood in a cast iron stove, or on hot stones outside. I don't fear the Mwave, I use it all the time for rice cooking (even a Caveman could cook rice this way) or defrosting things and melting butter, etc.

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        • #5
          I dont have one, but only because I am too cheap to buy one. Ours broke about 6 years ago, lol.

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          • #6
            Probably no big deal, as long as you aren't heating up plastic.

            I recently got rid of my microwave, though. I couldn't remember the last time I used it, so out it went. I'm going to use the counter space for a coffee bean roaster.

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            • #7
              "MAYBE" - I tend to err on the side of not microwaving for the most part, but I doubt there's actually much harm as long as you're not microwaving in plastic containers all the time.

              According to these studies below, the microwave is comparable to every other form of cooking (except steaming, which retains more nutrients in broccoli, but I rarely eat greens for "nutrients" anyway since they're not readily absorbed, so I don't personally care)

              Effects of different cooking methods on health-promoting compounds of broccoli
              The effect of microwaves on nutrient value of foods. - PubMed - NCBI
              Effects of microwave cooking conditions on bioactive compounds pres... - PubMed - NCBI
              The effect of microwave heating on vitamins B1 and E, and linoleic ... - PubMed - NCBI

              According to other sources, microwaves cause "hot spots" of overheating, which in turn leads to production of carcinogens or other deformed proteins/nutrients. This is because the microwave heats food by making the water molecules rotate furiously, so the heating efficiency of a particular region of food depends on the water content of such food. If a food has spots with higher water concentration than other spots, those spots will get WAY hotter than other spots.

              I usually avoid my microwave just because none of the above studies test toxin/carcinogen production (only nutrient minimization). However, I'm not THAT diligent about the avoidance. When I'm lazy/busy, I reheat items with a relatively equal water concentration throughout the entire food item (e.g. reheating a potato/yam, diced up), or at least try to cut up the food into small chunks just so I don't have to heat the item for too long.

              EDIT: Dammit MR. A, already beat me to the punch while I was searching for studies.
              Last edited by TQP; 11-14-2014, 11:46 AM.
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              • #8
                Originally posted by eats.meats.west View Post
                I'm thinking that when the early gas & electric cooking appliances came into use, people probably claimed that they were not healthy when compared to cooking over wood in a cast iron stove, or on hot stones outside. I don't fear the Mwave, I use it all the time for rice cooking (even a Caveman could cook rice this way) or defrosting things and melting butter, etc.
                I tend to doubt that, only because back then people didn't have nearly the same awareness of what happens to food, and in turn our bodies, on a microscopic level depending on how it's grown/treated/prepared. Heck, back then it was up for debate whether cigarettes were bad for you...

                I'm a bit paranoid about the microwave, and what it might do to food, but I don't bother doing much in the way of due diligence; I think it makes food taste like shit so that sort of ends the debate for me .

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                • #9
                  Any cooking method will destroy some nutrients, and reheating degrades them further. But since I don't eat marginally-nutritive foods, and tend not to overcook things in the first place, I don't worry about microwave reheating. I often cook a big batch of something by conventional methods, then eat it for several days in a row until it's gone, so I use mine all the time. I don't use plastics in the microwave, but beyond that I don't worry about it.

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                  • #10
                    There is a lot of conflicting data on if microwaves are safe or not. I rarely use mine and I don't use plastic when heating up food.

                    But for me it is a matter of taste. Food just taste better reheated in a pan versus nuking it. It only takes a bit more time to reheat it on the stove versus using the microwave.
                    Randal
                    AKA: Texas Grok

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                    • #11
                      Yesyesyes

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                      • #12
                        i dislike the texture of meat reheated in a micro, so never do it.

                        as already mentioned it doesn't take much longer on the stove, so i do that.
                        As I ate the oysters with their strong taste of the sea and their faint metallic taste that the cold white wine washed away, leaving only the sea taste and the succulent texture, and as I drank their cold liquid from each shell and washed it down with the crisp taste of the wine, I lost the empty feeling and began to be happy and to make plans.

                        – Ernest Hemingway

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                        • #13
                          I do not use plastic in the kitchen in general.

                          All of my storage containers are old fashioned (glass) refrigerator containers that stack. This didn't start so much as a 'health' thing as much as an aesthetic thing. I groove on pyrex, earthenware, wooden spoons, even the old revereware pots and pans.

                          I sadly, but eventually, gave up some of the glazed earthenware stuff (lead and all that).

                          As for the microwave - it gets occasional use - I neither fear it, nor admire it - it's just there.

                          I don't have a rice cooker - so I like making rice in the wave because it's 100% predictable. No standing around keeping your eye on it.
                          What have you done today to make you feel Proud?

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                          • #14
                            yes, bad. MSG cannot be heated

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                            • #15
                              I imagine it's bad although I don't have research to back it up except the anecdotal experience of microwaved food smelling and tasting awful. I used to microwave a lot when I was depressed and too lazy to make proper food. I cringe thinking about it!

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