The microwave is a popular household appliance. If you don't have much time to prepare food, you can use the device. Now there are health concerns about the use. We therefore did a little more research into the extent to which a microwave could actually damage health. Some experts gave answers.
Why is the food heated up so quickly?
The microwave radiation with an approximate frequency of 2.45 gigahertz ensures rapid heating. Are the food contaminated afterwards? And what about the radiation that could possibly escape?
Margret Morlo from the Association for Nutrition and Dietetics (VFED) in Bocholt says: “Microwave foods are harmless to health”. Ina Stelljes from the Federal Office for Radiation Protection (BfS) confirmed to “t-Online.de”: “Protective devices ensure that very little radiation is released to the outside”. Nevertheless, according to the expert, it can happen that small rays escape near the screen and the doors. However, there are limits for this that manufacturers must comply with. This is five milliwatts per square centimeter at a distance of five centimeters from the device surface.
No studies show health risks
“I am not aware of any studies that indicate that microwave ovens are harmful to human health. However, one has to keep in mind that microwave ovens have to comply with certain limit values, and that this of course applies provided that these limit values are also complied with, ”says Dr. rer. nat. Sarah Drießen from the Research Center for Electro-Magnetic Environmental Compatibility (femu) in RWTH Aachen.
Nevertheless, it cannot be denied that radiation actually occurs. Therefore, there are many different opinions on this topic, especially on the Internet. It often comes to cell phone comparison. The smartphone is also suspected to promote brain tumors, for example, in the event of massive use. The effects of electromagnetic waves or fields on human health are therefore also the subject of scientific discussions. However, it is not easy to find sufficiently secure information.
Cell phone radiation versus microwave
“If I want to compare microwaves from a microwave oven with cell phones, it is true that the microwaves are very similar in frequency. However, the difference may be that I have to hold my cell phone to my ear all the time when I am on the phone and that is why I am more exposed to these microwaves; for a longer time than when I warm the food in my microwave. I don't look into my microwave all the time. And that's why I'm not so close to the device all the time and not so exposed to these frequencies or the microwaves, ”says Dr. Outside.
What about the food after it has been heated by the rays?
“Microwaves are non-ionizing rays. We as scientists even speak of electromagnetic fields, we are not talking about radiation. And that is why the food cannot be irradiated in the sense, ”confirms Dr. Outside.
The vitamins are destroyed by the strong heating
Accordingly, the food and the preparation itself are harmless. But are the heated foods still healthy? Indeed, healthy foods are no longer an option because most vitamins are sensitive to heat. The strong heating reduces the vitamins between 40 and 80 percent. So if you eat a lot of microwaved food, you should pay attention to an additional vitamin intake from fruits and vegetables.
“In my view, the microwave is less a cooking process than a regeneration process. If I now have frozen broccoli, for example, which are already blanched at the company that made the frozen broccoli, I can wonderfully heat them up in the microwave, ”says Prof. em. Dr.-Ing. Elmar H. Schlich, professorship for process technology in food and service companies, Koblenz, Gießen.
Can you bake in the microwave? “So all the dishes that are normally baked or fried in the oven, from cakes to meat dishes, such as fried chicken or pizza, don't get crispy in the microwave. There is no browning reaction, no crust forms. And that is why such food, when cooked in the microwave, tastes very bland and remains flabbergasted, ”says Ute Gomm from the AID consumer information service.
Conclusion: The microwave is generally safe. For comparison, making calls on cell phones, confirmed by some studies, is probably more dangerous. The dishes can be prepared quickly. The users save a lot of time. If you eat almost exclusively with microwave food, you should note that, for example, the vitamin loss is up to 80 percent. Accordingly, users should pay attention to a balanced diet. (sb)