Will zapping your meal in the microwave destroy its nutritional value? Resident director and nutritionist, Katie Cavuto, owner of the Philadelphia-based personal chef service Healthy Bites, tells all.
Parents and health-conscious individuals want to know the nutritional value of the food they prepare and eat. But, many don’t have the time to spend hours in a kitchen preparing the meal. Cavuto says that while zapping food in a microwave saves time, it also affects the nutritional profile. In fact, cooking in general depletes many of the nutrients found in food.
Nutrients break down when exposed to heat
How so? Nutrients break down when exposed to heat. Vitamins such as C and B-complex, as well as some minerals, are water-soluble. The make-up of the vitamins means they are vulnerable to heat blasts, especially when water is added to the dish prior to putting it in the microwave for a quick warm-up.
But, before you throw the microwave out the door or sell it off at the next neighborhood yard sale, think about the time the food spends in the microwave. In many cases, food spends less time cooking in a microwave than on the stovetop. This means that the microwave may pose less of a threat to the food and its nutrient intake than other methods of preparation.
Benefits of microwave cooking
For many people, the microwave provides an efficient way to prepare veggies. Take the microwave away and some wouldn’t touch their vegetables. Since microwave prep only causes a little vitamin C to be lost, it is better to prepare the vegetables in the microwave than to stop eating them. According to nutritional experts, it is important to consume at least some veggies every day, rather than go without simply for the sake of convenience, or lack of it.
The biggest concern is what tops the veggies and what they are prepared in. Rather than dolloping butter and salt on top of the steamed veggies, opt for a lighter seasoning. Fresh herbs, pepper, and olive oil may be drizzled and dashed on top of the vegetables when they come out of the microwave, offering a healthy snack or side dish.
It is also important to cook your veggies in a glass bowl, instead of paper plates, plastic containers, and other surfaces that could leach unhealthy chemicals into your food. Stick to a glass dish and avoid heating the food with water so that your cook time is less and your food is safe. Certain plastics contain BPA, which may be harmful to your health. Play it safe and smart. Knowing how to use your microwave to your advantage may save more than just time, but your health, too.