Are Microwave Ovens Safe for Our Health | Chris Kresser
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Are Microwave Ovens Safe?

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Microwaving your food may not be as harmful as some health enthusiasts would lead you to believe.

are microwave ovens safe?
Microwave ovens are a convenient way to cook and reheat food. Maximkostenko/iStock/Thinkstock

Microwaves. These handy gadgets have been the source of much debate in the online health community, and it’s not hard to see why. The idea of “zapping,” “nuking,” or otherwise heating your food using microwave radiation can seem a little dubious.

In this article, I’ll take a look at the evidence behind some of the most common microwave concerns. Do microwaves leak radiation? Do microwaves destroy the nutrients in food? Do they denature proteins and make food toxic to our bodies? First, though, let’s start with the basics. How do they work?

How Do Microwave Ovens Work?

The aptly-named microwave oven uses microwave radiation to heat food. Electromagnetic (EM) radiation exists over a range of wavelengths, where shorter wavelengths (such as x-rays and gamma rays) have higher energy than longer wavelengths (such as radio waves). On the EM spectrum (pictured below), microwaves fall between radio and infrared waves.

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Image Source.

Each level of radiation has different effects on the molecules they interact with. Microwaves contain enough energy to induce molecular rotation, which is the lowest energy form of interaction, but they don’t have enough energy to induce molecular vibrations, electron excitation, or ionization. Microwaves have the greatest effect on water molecules, due to their polar structure, and these rapidly rotating water molecules transfer energy as heat to the other molecules in food.

Do Microwaves Leak Radiation?

One concern many people have about microwave ovens is the simple fact that they emit, well, microwaves. Hasn’t exposure to microwave radiation been linked to cancer and infertility? Evidence is mixed; most published research concludes that low-level microwave exposure doesn’t present a significant risk to human health. (1, 2, 3) Even if it did, this is only an issue if the microwaves inside the microwave somehow escape the microwave and encounter your body, which (as you’ll see below) is unlikely.

The FDA requires that microwaves emit no more than 5 mW/cm2 of radiation at a distance of 2 inches from the microwave. They also point out that microwave radiation dissipates rapidly as you move away from the source, so a measurement taken 20 inches from the microwave would be about 1/100 of the measurement taken at 2 inches. This is good news, because it means that to avoid radiation from your microwave, all you have to do is step away from it while your food is heating.

Are #microwaves as unhealthy as we are told?

The other good news is that in general, real microwave emissions seem to stay below the federally mandated maximum. A study published in 2013 on microwaves in Palestine found that the radiation leakage measured one meter from the microwave varied from 0.43 to 16.4 μW/cm2, with an average of 3.64 μW/cm2. (4) A 2001 survey of microwaves in Saudi Arabia concluded that with 95% probability, a microwave will be found to leak between 0.01 and 2.44 mW/cm2 at a distance of 5cm, and only one out of 106 microwaves surveyed was found to leak more than the FDA limit. (5)

For comparison’s sake, a 2013 study measured microwave radiation emitted by cell phones at a distance of 3.5cm from the phone, and found levels of 10 – 40 μW/cm2 during a call and 0.35 – 10.5 μW/cm2 on silent. (6) Based on these numbers, having a cell phone in your pocket on silent mode exposes you to roughly the same level of microwave radiation as standing one meter from your microwave while it’s heating food.

Honestly, just don’t press your face up against the door of the microwave while your food is cooking, and step a few feet away if you can. If you’re going to be concerned about exposure to microwave radiation, you’d probably be better off getting rid of your cellphone than your microwave oven. (But that’s a topic for a another day.)

Do Microwaves Make Proteins Toxic?

Now, let’s talk about the effect of microwave heating on food. One oft-cited claim is that microwaves can “denature” proteins, making them toxic to the human body. First of all, I think there are some misconceptions about what exactly “denaturation” is. Contrary to how the word is often used, it doesn’t mean that a protein has ‘changed’ in some unspecified way to make it more toxic. When a protein is “denatured,” that specifically means it has unfolded and lost its three-dimensional shape, but all of the amino acids in the protein are still bonded together.

Heat in general denatures proteins, so cooking your food (using any heating method) will denature the proteins. Cooking can even be defined as heating something enough to denature the proteins. (7) Changes in pH also denature proteins. In fact, guess what one of the functions of stomach acid is? Denaturing the proteins you ingest! Proteins need to be unfolded (denatured) before digestive enzymes can cleave them into individual amino acids to be absorbed in your small intestine. “Denatured proteins” don’t sound so scary any more, do they?

Perhaps what people have in mind when they refer to “protein denaturation” is actually isomerization of amino acids. This is a completely different process, but it is a change that actually affects the nutritive value of proteins. Without getting too into the chemistry, amino acids can exist in two configurations, termed D- and L-, and isomerization is the process by which an amino acid switches from one configuration to the other. Our bodies almost exclusively use the L- form of amino acids, but pH changes and heat can cause amino acids in food to isomerize to the D- forms, which can’t be efficiently digested or utilized by our body. (8)

A few studies where large amounts of isolated D- amino acids are fed to rodents show potential harmful effects, but there’s no evidence that the levels of D- amino acids normally found in food are harmful. (9) Plus, many foods (such as raw dairy from ruminants and some fruits and vegetables) naturally contain low levels of D- amino acids.

In any case, there doesn’t appear to be a significant difference in levels of D- amino acids in foods cooked in the microwave compared with foods heated conventionally. One study conducted in 1989 found higher levels of D- amino acids in microwaved formula compared with other heating methods (10), but several more recent studies have found no difference. (11, 12, 13, 14, 15) Additionally, the general consensus seems to be that if more D- amino acids are formed, it is due primarily to over heating or uneven temperature distribution, rather than a specific effect of microwaves themselves.

Do Microwaves Destroy Nutrients?

As far as vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and plant phenols, retention does not appear to depend on cooking method. Levels of nutrient retention were sometimes higher in microwaved food, and sometimes lower, depending on time, temperature, and amount of water used in the cooking process. (16, 17, 18, 19, 20)

In general, nutrients are lost from food during any type of cooking, and more nutrients are lost when the temperature is higher or the food is cooked for longer. Water soluble vitamins are readily leached into cooking liquid (no surprise there), so boiling food tends to result in greater nutrient losses than microwaving it with a small amount of water (unless you drink the water you boiled the food in, in which case you’d still be getting most of the nutrients).

As a final interesting data point, one study published in 1995 used a rat model to look at the overall effects of a microwaved diet in vivo. The diet consisted of meat, potatoes, vegetables, and some oil, cooked either in the microwave or conventionally, and was fed to rats for 13 weeks. To magnify any adverse effects of microwave cooking, the study authors added two additional experimental groups that received “abused” food, which had been reheated and cooled a couple times either conventionally or in the microwave. (21) At the end of 13 weeks, they found no adverse effects of microwave cooking on the rats.

Don’t Fear the Microwave!

In conclusion, microwaves aren’t as scary as some people make them out to be. Yes, they’re another source of microwave radiation in your home, but the levels are extremely low, and can be almost entirely avoided by simply stepping away while your food is heating. And compared with microwave radiation from other devices (particularly cell phones), radiation from your microwave oven is negligible.

Additionally, there’s no evidence that microwaves adversely affect the nutrient profile of foods. Because microwaves are a relatively new device, I prefer to think of them as “guilty until proven innocent” rather than the other way around, but given what we know about EM radiation and its effects on food molecules, there isn’t really a mechanism by which microwaves could destroy nutrients other than heat. And heat, of course, is an issue regardless of cooking method!

If you’re still skeptical of microwaves after reading this, by all means – use whatever cooking method makes you comfortable. I might be one of the few freaks in the world now that still doesn’t use a microwave, but I can’t say that it’s because of any safety concern or scientific concern. I’ve just never liked what they do to the texture of certain foods, and for whatever reason, I’ve never gotten into using one.

But if you enjoy the convenience of a microwave, don’t be afraid to use it – especially if being able to microwave your food makes the difference between heating up leftover Paleo chili or grabbing a Nutri-Grain bar for lunch!

271 Comments

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  1. If they are safe then why did the plants die in this simple trial.

    http://www.eutimes.net/2011/03/experiment-microwaved-water-kills-plants/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+TheEuropeanUnionTimes+%28The+European+Union+Times%29

    And then theres this… http://www.powerwatch.org.uk/rf/microwaves.asp

    “After some 20 years of research into their use, Soviet Russia banned the use of microwave ovens for heating food in 1976 as they decided that the dangers outweighed the benefit of speed.

    The following is a summary of the Russian investigations that resulted in the banning of microwave ovens referred to above, published by the Atlantis Rising Educational Center in Portland, Oregon. Carcinogens were formed in virtually all foods tested. No test food was subjected to more microwaving than necessary to accomplish the purpose, i.e., cooking, thawing, or heating to insure sanitary ingestion.

    Microwaving prepared meats sufficiently to insure sanitary ingestion caused formation of d-Nitrosodienthanolamines, a well-known carcinogen. Microwaving milk and cereal grains converted some of their amino acids into carcinogens. Thawing frozen fruits converted their glucoside and galactoside containing fractions into carcinogenic substances. Extremely short exposure of raw, cooked or frozen vegetables converted their plant alkaloids into carcinogens. Carcinogenic free radicals were formed in microwaved plants, especially root vegetables.

    They were allowed again from 1987 when, under Perestroika, Gorbachev allowed many western business pressures to change problematic Russian regulations that did not fit in with “Western Free-Trade” practice.”

    Very interesting.

    • @Jarad
      Did you know that plants die if put in a closet? LOL
      Sure, we can all make irrelevant points to plants when we are dealing with human beings. Not sure about you but my body structure isn’t consistent with a daisy. Furthermore those articles are garbage- how much water? are the soils exactly the same in quantity, amount of fertilizer, and drainage consistency? Who and how did the person prune them? Are they qualified to know the proper pruning techniques for that type of plant? Etc. Etc.

      How do plants survive in the ocean?? If water held radiation then we would all die from swimming in an ocean/pool from sunlight radiation

      Get some real science

    • I suggest you start acquiring your “real” science knowledge from a credible source. The web site you cited is full of JUNK science crap.

        • Jarad, you are right, the “science fair” aricle is simply a hoax. So let’s look at Powerwatch. First, congratulations on choosing a non-American site. We foreigners get fed up with conspiracy theorists when we can see through them because we’re not American.

          However Powerwatch is still a biased one sided site that has fundamental misunderstandings about the science, history etc.

          1st, MW radiation does NOT violently rip molecules apart. If they did, then the greater heat of grilling, baking and frying would impart even more energy and have an even more violent impact. And if you tear apart a molecule of water (MWs work mostly on water as it has the highest polarity) you’d get an explosive hydrogen and oxygen mixture – which you don’t.

          Athermic effects are unmeasurable and also largely undetectable. The use of MWs in gene technology is not relevant as they use concentrated beams similar to lasers. And even if cells become impaired allowing viruses, fungi etc to invade this would be irrelevant as we are cooking the food for consumption.

          Then there is the sad misunderstanding about radiation and radio-activity. The two are NOT the same. Any article that even hints that they are should be disregarded immediately. This is a fundamental and elementary error. MWs cannot under any circumstances cause radiolytic compounds, they simply do not have the quantum energy to do so. Such compounds are the product of radiolysis causing molecular disassociation, radiolysis needs very high energy radiation like gamma radiation (both a form of radiation and a form of radio-activity).

          Powerwatch then states that the Soviets banned MW ovens. This is simply false. It was made up by a writer called Bill Kopp of Atlantis Rising Education Center, that was taken up by Antony Wayne and Laurence Newell and Mercola took it from them, but there is absolutely no evidence for the ban at all.

          Need I continue?

          The science papers cited are real but the conclusions drawn are taken out of context. Garcia-Viguera et all (2003) did find that there was a loss of 97% of flavonoids BUT steamed the broccoli for 3½ minutes but MWed broccoli in lots of water for 6 minutesn nearly twice as long. The the main advantages of MWing is less time and less water, 6 minutes in lots of water leaching much of the goodness would be like steaming for 10 minutes then plunging the result to be boiled for a further 5 minutes. One wonders what the effects that would have.

          Richard Quan et al. (1992) did indeed find that microwaving breastmilk had an adverse effect on the immunoglobin. However he compared near boiled MWed milk with warm traditionally heated milk. In the actual article it stated that heating to higher temperatures in saucepans was contraindicated too, that it was probably the heat not some mysterious MW factor that was the proble.

          I could go on.

          Essentially Powerwatch and Mercola are biased sites with a deliberately narrowed research parameter. The scientist has to look at all the evidence and form an opinion based on that. The populist forms his opinion then looks for the evidence to support it. If none can be found, fake it (hence the faked plant experiment). The difference in philosophy is huge.

          • Any representative of a group, be it Powerwatch, Mercola, or legislators, are at the mercy of whoever provides them information to base their conclusions and votes on.

            The larger or more highly-placed the representative, the greater the likelihood they will be fed erroneous data…. which leads to increasingly erroneous re-reporting of artifactual data, and bad votes.

            I’ve seen good sources and bad; read good articles and bad, on various sites, including Mercola. He, as do so many other representatives, has others gathering data and writing for him; sometimes, their techniques are noticeably ham-fisted, when they try to sway public.
            It’s bad practice, using trickery to sway public. But it’s been done increasingly, over the past 15 years, become so pervasive, it seems few notice it, and many encourage it.
            Bad Robots!

    • Just curious, have you read the actual studies they cited before making your own judgement? or you simply believe every intrepretation these 2 unknown experts have had made in a dot.com website?

  2. Hey Chris, this is a great article and really hits the nail on the head for people in more holistic health (hippie-dippie) channels who need some scientific backing to their strongly-held biases against microwaves. Im included in this! And this brings brings up another closely-related article id love for you to cover in the near future: Cooking methods broken down! Cast iron vs. non-stick. Non stick and the major cons? Tefflon? Microwavable plastics?
    Im a nutritionist in training and purist in my own home with utensils I use, yet I am also a nanny and postpartum doula working in many many other homes where scratched-up non-stick is the NORM. It doesn’t matter how much $ people make, cooking methods are not something we talk much about and its a big concern of mine. Id love to have this be a bigger conversation. Hope you get to this at some point! 🙂

  3. Mom noticed that if you heat food in the microwave and put it back to the refrigerator it spoils quicker than heating at stove. At my parents home the microwave broke down all surrounding appliances, eventhough they were further than 1 meter.
    And, Mom got so paranoid about radiation that she bought a meter to measure there were no radiation filtration, and a very old one had, but the “new” ones which broke down the appliances, didn’t show up any scape.
    Conclusion: I don’t use the micro, at my jobs I prefer to eat my lunch at room temperature, and I always move away from any when it is working.

  4. I am with you on this one Chris. If I did have a microwave I might use it for heating up a cup of tea but otherwise I don’t like how they cook food, regardless of their safety.

    • I agree! Regardless of the safety debate – I don’t like the bulk of the appliance when all I’ll ever use it for is reheating a cup of tea. That said, my mother reheats most meals in the microwave, and I feel better about that now after reading this Chris. THANKS!!

  5. It is much harder to prove the safety of something than to prove it causes harm. Microwaves appear safe for every metric that Chris covers, but it’s the things that he hasn’t covered (and may not be able to be known through studies if they haven’t been paid for) which leads me to avoid microwaves. I do take the approach of the precautionary principle with microwaves, primarily because of a lack of follow-up to a very disturbing study done by Hans Hertel which measured changes in the blood with exposure to microwaved food, as well as people’s anecdotes. “As soon as Hertel and Blanc announced their results, the hammer of authority slammed down on them. A powerful trade organization, the Swiss Association of Dealers for Electroapparatuses for Households and Industry, known simply as FEA, struck swiftly. They forced the President of the Court of Seftigen, Kanton Bern, to issue a ‘gag order’ against Hertel and Blanc. … As those powerful special interests in Switzerland who desire to sell microwave ovens by the millions continued to suppress open debate on this vital issue for modern civilisation, new microwave developments blossomed in the United States.” As far as I have been able to find, there’s been no follow-up studies funded to verify Hertzel’s microwave study. The reference which shows the results of his study can be found here: http://www.mercola.com/article/microwave/hazards2.htm#hanshertel

      • Attacking the messenger and not the message is a logical fallacy. Even a “hack” can have useful information, though I do disagree with your characterization Dr. Mercola. He should have been more diligent in checking his sources with regards to the claim that the Soviet’s banned the microwave oven… but overall he does a great benefit to the health community.

        Flaws can be found in Hertel and Blanc’s methods. My question is “has their flashing red light warning ever been directly followed up by any non-industry financed followup?” I don’t know the answer to this, and I hope someone can point me to the followup or a related study if there is one. A thousand studies can show how microwaves are safe by Other measures, but that doesn’t prove safety if the specific allegations brought forth by Hertel and Blanc prove true.

    • Mercola is NOT a reputable site and is extremely biased.

      To answer your query re “European” studies, Hans Hertel was a Swiss food scientist who conducted a study on the effects of microwaved food. However he has never published his study in English (and only articles not peer reviewed papers in his native German). He has consistently refused to release his results, only his interpretations.

      In summary, his study was done on 8 individuals including himself (there goes one level of blind control).

      He tested the following :
      – raw organic milk vs pasteurised milk (variable 1)
      – raw vegetables vs cooked vegetable (variable 2)
      – organic vegetables vs non organic vegetables (variable 3)
      – fresh vs frozen food (variable 4)

      These were mainly macrobiotic vegetarians but there were no controls for low level anaemia or lactose intolerance (milk was included in the testing), both of which are more common in such diets.

      No-one fell ill, if his conclusions were true after just 8 weeks, then we should be seeing a mass extinction by now, we are not. His methodology has been criticised and disputed.

      I hope that you can see that there were already too many variables before he even thought of introducing microwaved cooking as well. These protocols are appalling and there is no way this “study” would ever be published in a peer reviewed journal, there are just too many factors that could be attributed to the results – if the results were actually true.

      His associate resigned before Hertel published the results on the grounds that he had had no input on the conclusions. His name does NOT appear on the article that was published in Switzerland, though it does on the article published in the German magazine Raum & Zeid, which following a typo has become a separate article written by Raum & Zeld. It’s only the one article.

      In the Swiss article, he stated that the scientific evidence was clear that MW ovens caused death. The Swiss authorities clamped down on the magazine (Hertel was only a co-defendant) and said that you were not allowed to state as truth something for which there was no evidence. The European Court of Human Rights over-ruled the Swiss saying that it was manifestly an opinion not fact. What the court said in fact was that he had the right to say that MW ovens were dangerous because of freedom of speech.

      We are still waiting for a study that has more than a light hint that MW ovens are more dangerous than ordinary cooking.

      • Hertel not publishing in English is a fault? (how does this affect the veracity of his claims?)

        Are blind controls needed if the metric being measured (qualities of the blood) is unaffected by whether or not the person knows what he’s ingesting? I might be missing something here.

        I don’t know why, maybe it was your source, but you’ve left out some of the things he tested – here’s a complete list of things which were ingested and then the effects on the blood were measured:
        1) Raw milk
        2) Raw milk from same source, conventionally cooked
        3) Raw milk from same source, pasteurized
        4) Raw milk from same source, microwaved
        5) Raw vegetables from an organic farm
        6) Raw vegetables from same source, conventionally cooked
        7) Raw vegetables from same source, frozen and then defrosted in microwave
        8) Raw vegetables from same source, cooked in microwave

        The CLAIMS (granted, would like to see follow-up studies for verification):
        The blood values which showed most extreme changes following microwaved food ingestion included decrease in blood hemoglobin, various negative changes in blood cholesterol values, and distinct short-term decrease in lymphocytes (white blood cells).

        As far as not seeing the effects due to the microwave… I think broad correlations are worthy of being more explored in depth. One trend to look at is continually increasing cancer rates, it doesn’t take much imagination to see that microwaved food COULD be contributing to some degree. Certainly we do not need to go extinct from something for it to be harmful!

        Again not a great study, and probably suffered from some confirmation bias in some way, but Very Simple to be followed up in a more diligent way. Where are the other studies which look at hemoglobin, lymphocytes, and cholesterol values of blood relative to various methods of prepared food after ingestion?

        A study which does not explicitly follow-up on Hans Hertel’s, but which implicitly may help to explain some of his results, is this one:
        “Non-Thermal Effects in the Microwave Induced Unfolding of Proteins Observed by Chaperone Binding”.
        From the abstract:
        “We show that microwaves cause a significantly higher degree of unfolding than conventional thermal stress for protein solutions heated to the same maximum temperature.”

        • Hi Brian,

          No I wasn’t saying German is faulty, my point was that it means that 99% of English speakers would not have read his paper and would therefore base their opinions on biased second hand reporting.

          Blind controls are needed to ensure that any placebo effect is eliminated even if it is a physiological factor that is being tested.

          You are correct in listing all the factors. I was trying to simplify them. However it just makes it worse as we now have 9 factors including MW cooking on 8 subjects, there is absolutely NO way that this could give any meaningful results at all!

          Hertel has never published his results, merely interpretations. We do not know if “decreased levels of lymphocytes” fell within norms or were significantly off.

          There have been no follow up studies partly because we can’t find a mechanism that would produce such results.

          In conclusion – an appallingly controlled study that showed nothing at all and should NEVER be cited.

          As for the other study you cited, yes I agree, but protein unfolding is the first step of denaturing proteins, something that is quite normal in cooking, indeed essential as we often do not need the protein itself we need its building blocks to make our own human proteins.

          As an aside, the German for protein is “eiweiss” which means egg white (albumin). The proteins in egg white are clear, they turn white when they are denatured.

  6. This article is so timely! I’m pregnant right now and I’ve never really seen a source on microwaves I can trust. I’m very thankful for your input. Now I can stop looking like a crazy person and running in the other room while I’m microwaving something, for fear that it will “attack” my unborn child! 🙂

  7. I don’t use one either. I am surprised however that you endorse them (sort of). I also did a post on them and didn’t take either side but recommend against using them because too little is known.
    Also, it is not that d-aminos are harmful to us but renders the nutrients useless to us as we do not absorb or utilize them. Of course you state that all cooking methods do that so…
    And honestly, 13 weeks is not even close to long enough to determine the effects of microwaved food on our health.
    I do like the reference to reheating paleo chili but that can also be done quickly on the stovetop.

  8. Hi Chris,

    You briefly mentioned drinking the water to get the nutrients back after cooking but I was curious if someone with thyroid or bone issues should stay away from that when steaming or blanching veggies because of the oxalates? I have read mixed reviews so I was just curious on what you thought 🙂

    Thanks!

    • Hi Katie,

      Obviously, I’m not Chris, but I wanted to say if you do have oxalate issues (e.g. kidney stones, joint pain, GI trouble, etc.) you would be better off not drinking the cooking liquid. The soluble oxalate from the food being cooked leaches into the water (if it is immersed. I’m not sure about steaming).

      Boiling and then throwing out the cooking water is one of the methods used to lower the oxalate content of foods for those of us following a low oxalate diet.

      Dee

      • I do no need to lower my oxalate amount but I am a nutritionist and I have a ton of people who suffer from all of the above and just want to clear it with an expert instead of reading here and there. Thanks for you info.

        • Since there isn’t a response from Chris yet, I thought you might find this helpful. There is lots of information (including study results), available at the Trying Low Oxalates yahoo group. The list owner is researcher Susan Costen Owens, who I understand has had a specific focus on oxalate issues for about 20 years.

          It sounds like you are doing a lot to help people, that’s great to hear. Now I will butt out. 🙂

  9. I don’t want to use/have a microwave- but my husband does…. It’s been an ongoing conversation in our house with my point being the nutritional depletion of the reheated food…having read this article I guess I’d be more open to having one for him to use

  10. Dear Chris,
    I do agree that the texture in microwaving is awful and I can say that this invention has never been used in my home. I prefer not to even own a microwave. I think of it like ultra pasteurization. Zapping something at a high heat for a short amount of time. I think it changes the true nature of the food, and I really do believe there is no was nutrients can be preserved under this method. Interesting research however, but this didn’t change my mind, or even make me consider using one! Thanks for the info!

    • Coremus, this seems like a pretty easy experiment to replicate in your home. As a professional researcher, I would attempt to replicate this “study” yourself, several times, using several plants 😉 Actually, this sounds like a science experiment for my kids!

      • I would like to do this experiment myself. Does he clarify if the microwaved water is hot when he waters the plant?

        Between these two articles, I have no desire to start microwaving food, BUT I also feel more comfortable with other people using it around me without fearing leaked radiation lol.

      • You should do the experiment yourself but on more plants and have a non-heated water control. Please keep all other factors the same (in the experiment referenced above, the earth is different indicating different earths or amounts of water or temperature or ventilation or light – but something was different).

        Replication is a basic principle of science, you could replicate what this experiment did exactly.

        – Buy two plants
        – Cut the leaves off the one you like least
        – Photograph them.

        That is all that happened, the rest is just padding to make it sound good.

  11. I am with you, Chris. I don’t use microwaves to cook either. I don’t like the texture of the foods in most cases no matter how hard I tried years ago. Now all I use it for is to reheat my coffee and leftovers. And when I reheat leftovers, I do it at a lower wattage for a longer period of time so as not to dry it out, etc.etc. I’m not in that much a hurry.

  12. Too funny Chris, I was reading it thinking, “No way Chris, does Not use microwaves,” I was grateful to have you confirm and share that you actually don’t. I too am a strange nut and will continue to only use my microwave as extra pantry storage. But good to know it’s nothing to Fear!!

  13. What about the EMF profile from induction ranges? We are considering installing one in our new house. We spend a lot of time at the stove cooking, I estimate we are within 1ft from the stove top. How much radiation exposure does this translate to? Is this a health risk?

  14. Thanks as always, Chris, for your calm, reasoned take on the issues. I am moving toward using the microwave less, but let’s be honest — people who work full-time don’t always have time to heat up food on the stove (especially if we don’t have access to gas heat), and those of us who live in small apartments don’t have the luxury of owning a plethora of different-sized pots and pans. I don’t see how it helps people’s health to make them feel guilty about using microwaves.

    I feel that so many people in the primal/paleo community are so incredibly neurotic about these issues, and I can’t help but think that this stress that people put on themselves contributes negatively to their overall health (ie, orthorexia). All of this time that we spend obsessively reading about microwaves, perfect mineral balances, etc, is just more time spent away from actual human relationships and activities.

    Having said that, I’m logging off the computer and taking advantage of a rare sunny evening in the Pacific NW! Because that’s what life is all about, right? 🙂

    • For some of us, vitamin deficiencies and food sensitivities leads to depression and anxiety, lack of focus, etc. Some of us were medicated over the years–given dangerous psychotropic drugs and treatments that worsened our conditions… somewhere along the way, some of us realized we were physically NOT mentally ill. When our nutritional deficiencies were finally remediated and we learned to heal ourselves with good food (and exercise), we were returned to good feelings, productivity, to life…while those of us–the lucky ones–enjoy good health, we remember how subtle were the effects of bad nutrition. Yes; we may be a bit neurotic… But only in America is mal – nourishment “treated” with ECT.

      • Also I don’t consider potentially good info as guilt-inducing…I do not feel guilty for my having made bad food choices ( and then bad “medical” choices in taking dangerous psychotropic drugs to treat the side effects of what I now know is malnutrition). I simply failed to ask questions, to investigate, to listen. Example: I only recently asked for the ingredient list of the vit b-12 shot I take monthly…Why was I surprised to find aluminum on the list? While it offers antimicrobial properties, does my body need MORE aluminum (in a sea of it)? Also, why does my injection or any others (or even pills) need artificial colors? Or chemicals to change the appearance of the liquid in the syringe? (Because I won’t have a shot if it doesn’t “look” good?)
        Neurotic, afraid? No. More cautious? Yes. Better informed? You bet.

  15. Disappointing article. Failed to mention the danger of plastic outgassing. And no long term studies…

  16. As someone who has lived off grid on solar power for nearly 30 years I’ve never had a microwave because they’re energy hogs. Plus, I like to get intimate with my cooking by stirring, tasting and lovingly caring for food while it cooks. Can’t do any of that while food is cooking in a microwave. Call me crazy but who wants to eat something from a box that you cant stand close to while in use?!
    Like so many aspects of our modern lives it’s another way we’ve sold out connection for convenience. Solar ovens are a much better solution. Perhaps if everyone dumped their microwaves and switched to solar ovens we wouldn’t need so many nuclear and coal fired power plants.

    • That’s great, but some of us live in colder climes and solar power/ovens are not feasible. But I agree about the warm fuzzies of food preparation. Nothing better than slow-cooked food, or food cooked over a wood stove!

    • From what I’ve read, microwaves use less energy than stoves and so contribute less carbon dioxide emission. They use up to 60 of their energy heating the food. Also, I have half an hour for lunch at work, and even if there were a stove available, I wouldn’t want to waste time hovering over a burner when I could be reading.

    • I also have a solar oven and use it almost every sunny day to roast beets and sweet potatoes and beef roasts, BUT being the cook AND clean-up person for a paleo family, microwaves have one VERY solid advantage when it some to the dishes! You don’t have to wash the pan to have a warm lunch. I know I am not alone when I say that the dishes often take longer to do than the actual food prep.

  17. I hope you’re planning to tackle the bigger picture of EMF’s on our health- ie cell phones, wifi and smart meters! We need a rational voice on this topic.

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