Healthy Hollywood: Ask Keri Glassman - Does Microwaving Food Kill Nutrients?

Keri Glassman Keri Glassman

Nutritionist Keri Glassman, who regularly shares her expertise on Access Hollywood and Access Hollywood Live, is answering your nutrition, diet, and health questions.

Want to know which foods to curb sugar cravings? Or, what should you eat before a workout? Ask Keri anything!

Keri will choose one great question a week to be answered Thursday in our Healthy Hollywood column.

To submit questions for Keri, click HERE!

This week’s question…

“Does microwaving food remove nutrients?” — Lily H., New York

Keri says…

While many of us care a whole lot about putting the best foods into our bodies and the ways in which we prepare them, sometimes we need to turn to our good ol’ trusty friend— the microwave for convenience.

But do you know how a microwave actually works? Anyone? It’s okay! I don’t expect you to be a microwave expert. So before we can delve into the question at hand, let’s cover the basics. Without getting too sciencey, microwaves are essentially electromagnetic waves. Charged particles (think sodium and water in food) readily react when exposed to these waves. See! Science can be fun.

You may have heard that the radioactive emissions from microwaves can destroy nutrients, but the reality is quite the opposite… to some extent. There are two sides to every story and it is important to realize that all cooking methods (broiling, baking, grilling etc.) can destroy nutrients in food. How long the food is cooked, how much liquid is used, and the cooking temperature all influence the nutrient depletion more so than the specific cooking method.

The reason why microwaves may not put our nutrient-filled veggies at risk is because they actually tend to use less heat than conventional methods and involve shorter cooking times. Using lower temperatures is crucial because the most heat-sensitive vitamins (B vitamins and C) are water-soluble and are commonly found in vegetables. Research varies, but studies show that antioxidant activity may be lower in vegetables that are boiled versus vegetables that are microwaved.

Regardless of the nutrients that may be lost or gained through microwaving, some people still shy away from them due to their bad reputation. In reality, the microwave itself is not harmful to us. What is harmful are the plastics we put into the microwave. To safely microwave food, use glass or ceramic and cover with paper towel versus plastic wrap.

With their convenience and nutrient-retaining component, microwaves can be a great resource if used properly. Be smart, and don’t heat foods in plastic containers or covered by plastic wrap since it can drive plastic molecules into your food. Use your microwave but don’t abuse it! And make sure to get those veggies in!

-- Terri MacLeod & Keri Glassman

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