"Microwave Cause of Nutrient Loss" Fact or Fiction?

最終更新: 27 Jun 2023  |  2008 ビューアー  | 

ไมโครเวฟทำลายสารอาหาร Microwave cause of nutrient loss

The common belief that microwaving food leads to a significant loss of nutrients is indeed a misperception. There are a few key points to consider when it comes to understanding the effects of microwaving on the nutritional content of food.

Firstly, all forms of cooking affect the nutrient composition of food, whether it's grilling, boiling, steaming, or microwaving. It's a universal phenomenon linked with heat exposure, and microwaving is not an outlier. 

Microwave ovens are designed to be safe and very efficient for heating and cooking food. They use radio waves at a specifically set frequency to heat food. It's important to understand that these waves are non-ionizing radiation, which means they don't have the same risks as ionizing radiation (like x-rays or ultraviolet rays) which can lead to cell damage and cancer.

Microwaves heat food by causing water molecules in it to vibrate, which generates heat. The microwaves do not make the food radioactive or dangerous to eat. The food simply gets hot.

The most significant risk with microwaves is if they are used improperly or safety precautions are not followed. For example:

  • Using inappropriate containers
    Some materials, like certain plastics, can melt in the microwave, potentially leaching chemicals into the food.

  • Uneven heating
    Microwaves can heat unevenly, leading to "hot spots" in the food, which can cause burns if not handled carefully.

  • Sealed containers
    Sealed containers or eggs
    can explode in the microwave due to the build-up of steam.

Research has shown that microwave cooking doesn't degrade nutrients more than other cooking methods. Microwaving might be one of the best ways to retain nutrients in food because it takes a shorter amount of time to cook, and it typically uses less water compared to other methods.

For instance, a study published in the Journal of Food Science found that microwave cooking helps to preserve the antioxidant activity in certain vegetables better than boiling. Another study published in The Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry found that microwaving can help preserve vitamin C in foods, which is often lost during other types of cooking.



The primary factors affecting nutrient loss during cooking are:

  1. Heat
    High temperatures can degrade certain vitamins and phytonutrients in foods. For example, heat-sensitive nutrients like vitamin C and certain B vitamins can be reduced during the cooking process.

  2. Cooking Time
    The longer food is cooked, the more nutrients can be lost.
    Prolonged exposure to heat can degrade and destroy heat-sensitive nutrients.

  3. Water
    Water-soluble vitamins, like vitamins C and B vitamins, can leach out into cooking water. For instance, boiling vegetables in a large amount of water can result in significant losses of these water-soluble vitamins.

The microwave, due to its efficiency, can minimize these three factors. It heats food quickly, reduces the cooking time, and often requires little to no water. Thus, it can help to preserve more nutrients compared to other methods that require longer cooking times and more water.

Nutrient loss during cooking largely depends on the cooking method, temperature, duration of cooking, and the specific type of nutrient. Here's a general list of nutrients in terms of susceptibility to loss during cooking, from most to least:

  1. Water-Soluble Vitamins
    These are the most susceptible to loss during cooking. They include:

    • Vitamin C
      This vitamin is quite sensitive to heat, light, and air. It can easily be destroyed during cooking, especially when food is boiled.

    • B Vitamins
      Many B vitamins are water-soluble, and significant amounts can be lost in cooking water. The B vitamins include thiamine (B1), riboflavin (B2), niacin (B3), pantothenic acid (B5), pyridoxine (B6), biotin (B7), folic acid (B9), and cobalamin (B12).

  2. Minerals
    Minerals like potassium, sodium, and calcium can also be lost in cooking water, but they are generally more stable to heat than vitamins.

  3. Fat-Soluble Vitamins
    Vitamins A, D, E, and K
    are fat-soluble and are somewhat more resilient to heat than water-soluble vitamins. However, they can still be lost if food is cooked at high temperatures for long periods.

  4. Protein
    Proteins can change in structure (denature) when heated, but they are not typically "lost" from food during normal cooking processes. However, overcooking can make some proteins harder to digest.

  5. Carbohydrates and Fats
    These macronutrients are quite stable and do not generally diminish during cooking unless the food is burned to the point where it is physically lost.

Remember, to minimize nutrient loss, it's often best to steam or microwave vegetables, use the least amount of water possible when boiling, and avoid overcooking.

There are several strategies you can use to help preserve the nutritional quality of your food during cooking:

  1. Steaming
    This method involves cooking food in the steam from boiling water. Because the food doesn't come into contact with the water itself, it helps prevent the leaching of water-soluble vitamins and minerals.

  2. Microwaving
    As previously mentioned, microwaving often requires shorter cooking times and less water, which can help preserve nutrients. Just be sure to use microwave-safe containers.

  3. Sauteing or Stir-Frying
    These methods use small amounts of oil or water and typically involve quick cooking at relatively high heat. This can be a good way to cook vegetables without losing too many nutrients.

  4. Grilling or Roasting
    These methods don't require water, so they don't contribute to the loss of water-soluble vitamins. However, it's important not to use excessively high heat or overcook the food, which could degrade some nutrients.

  5. Using Cooking Water
    If you do boil or simmer foods, consider using the leftover cooking water in sauces, soups, or stews. This can help you recapture some of the nutrients that leached out of the food.

  6. Avoid Overcooking
    Overcooking can degrade many nutrients, so it's important to cook food for the appropriate amount of time.

  7. Raw Consumption
    Some foods are perfectly healthy to eat raw, and doing so can preserve nutrients that are lost during cooking. This can be especially beneficial for vegetables and fruits rich in vitamins C and B vitamins.


In conclusion, the belief that microwaving food significantly depletes nutrients is a misperception. All cooking methods can affect nutrient content, and microwaving isn't necessarily more harmful. In fact, due to shorter cooking times and less water usage, it may better preserve certain nutrients. Key factors influencing nutrient loss - heat, time, and water - can be moderated using appropriate cooking methods. Strategies like steaming, sauteing, grilling, roasting, and using cooking water can help retain nutrients. However, it's crucial to balance your diet with a mix of raw and cooked foods, as cooking can also increase the bioavailability of certain nutrients.

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