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5 Things You Should Never Microwave But You Didn’t Know

5 Things You Should Never Microwave But You Didn’t Know

You might want to think twice before going to heat up that plastic covered stew from last night.

Along with a fridge, stove and TV, I am pretty willing to bet you have a microwave in your home. That is a pretty safe bet as 95% of Americans own a microwave oven.

An Accidental Invention

Many things around us today have come about as a pure fluke such as post it notes, the Slinky, and Kim Kardashian’s career.

The Microwave falls under this category as well.

Percy L. Spencer was an electronics genius who served during World War II. On a tour, one of his laboratories he stopped for a moment in front of a magnetron, not the villain from Transformers but a large tube that drives radars. The tube’s ability to heat was noticed from a melting chocolate bar that was in his pocket.

To see if it was genuine heat, Spencer tested a bag of popcorn kernels that ended up popping all over over the room.

Seeing an Opportunity

This phenomenon might have just been regarded as an amusing experiment to Percy, similar to people dropping Mentos into bottles of Diet Coke; however he had over 150 patents to his name and saw a possibility.

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The first microwave oven stood five foot six inches tall and weight 750 pounds.

The microwave found a place early on in restaurants, rail cars and ocean liners as a means to cook large quantities of food.

It would take decades though before the microwave oven was developed as beneficial and affordable for the average family.

Cooking With a Radar Box

Make no mistake, a radar box is exactly what a microwave oven is. A microwave cooks food with oscillating electromagnetic energy that are very similar to radio waves but move back and forth at a much greater speed.

Where a normal oven’s heat slowly penetrates through food, microwave oven heat immediately reaches molecules around an inch below the surface of the food.

Microwaves produce non-ionizing radiation and there are studies that show that this can affect changes in your blood and heart rate along with microwaved food causing certain type of intestinal and stomach cancers

What specific things can be compromised by using a microwave?

Microwave ovens have to go through much more extensive testing and safety procedures these days so manufacturers will say the health risks are greatly reduced. Convenience is paramount and people will understandably try to save time when possible, but here are 5 things you are better off never putting in a microwave oven.

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1. Breast Milk

A key benefit of providing a newborn breast milk is being able to introduce the baby to powerful bacteria-fighting agents that are contained within the milk.

The Journal of Pediatrics ran tests on 22 samples of frozen breast milk heated in a microwave on either low or high heat and found that breast milk heated on high heat showed greater E-coli growth. This was 18 times higher than the milk heated without a microwave.

The samples microwaved at lower temperatures dramatically decreased isozyme activity as well as promoted the growth of harmful bacteria for babies

2. Broccoli

Broccoli is no stranger to the microwave as it is one of the most common quick heated vegetables around.

Any form of cooking is going to destroy some nutrients in food. Steaming is the most gentle and still causes a loss of around 11% of the antioxidant content of broccoli.

Cooking broccoli in a microwave with a bit of water lost up to 97% of its beneficial antioxidants.

3. Frozen Fruit

This has always been a big time saver. Buying frozen foods is actually not a bad idea as the flash freezing process can help preserve the nutrients of the fruit. Fruit immediately starts losing nutrients the moment it is picked. This is why frozen fruit or veg from the other side of the country can have a higher nutrient profile than local organic produce that might have spent more than a week in storage, transit and then on shelves.

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Russian studies in the late 70’s revealed that defrosting frozen fruit in a microwave ended up converting beneficial glucoside and galactaside into carcinogenic substances.

The Russians also continued studies into the early 90s that showed immunological effects of microwaves.

Frozen fruit is best thawed in a fridge or simply on a counter top at room temperature.

4. Defrosted Meat

Some microwaves rotate and some do not, which can lead to uneven distributions of cooking and thawing.

Frozen meat is a tough thing to have to defrost in a microwave, as it can take so long that it becomes very easy to start cooking it. Edges of meats can start to cook and turn brown while the inside remains frozen.

When that meat gets to the 40-140 degrees fahrenheit level bacteria begins to grow and multiply. If the meat is not immediately cooked you are looking at a pretty contaminated piece of meat.

Japanese researches found that meats cooked longer than 6 minutes in a microwave also lost half of its vitamin B-12 content.

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The best thawing tips are to let it defrost in a fridge overnight or thaw under cold, running water.

5. Dishes Covered in Plastic Wrap or in Plastic Containers

There are a lot of takeaways from this, but a very key one is to not microwave anything with any form of plastic around it. When you heat foods covered in plastic you can create carcinogens.

Heating these plastic wraps or containers can release harmful toxic chemicals directly into your foods. Some of the chemicals that can be derived from plastics are:

  • BPA
  • polyethylene terpthalate (PET)
  • benzene
  • toluene
  • xylene

Related to the breast milk issue above, it seems smart to not heat up any form of plastic baby bottle in a microwave.

Wrapping It All Up

Big changes in safety and design have definitely taken place in the manufacturing of microwave ovens. The companies that sell these products will be quick to point out the safety measures that were taken in their product’s creation.

Of course these companies will say that though, they really do not have a choice when sales and revenue are the bottom line.

The point is to try and prepare foods as traditionally as possible and eliminate or at least drastically reduce the use of microwave cooking.

Our time saving measures can actually end up causing us more problems in the long run.

Featured photo credit: Ethan via flic.kr

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Jamie Logie

Jamie is a personal trainer and health coach with a degree in Kinesiology and Food and Nutrition.

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Last Updated on November 11, 2019

How to Improve Memory and Boost Your Brainpower

How to Improve Memory and Boost Your Brainpower

Have you ever noticed that some people are able to effortlessly remember even the most mundane details and quickly comprehend new things? Well, you can too!

To unlock the full potential of your brain, you need to keep it active and acute. Wasting time on your couch watching mindless television shows or scrolling through facebook is not going to help.

Besides getting out flashcards, what can you do to help remember things better and learn new things more quickly? Check out these 10 effective ways on how to improve memory:

1. Exercise and Get Your Body Moving

Exercising doesn’t just exercise the body, it also helps to exercise your brain. Obesity and the myriad of diseases that eventually set in as a result of being overweight can cause serious harm to the brain.

Furthermore, without regular exercise, plaque starts to build up in your arteries, and your blood vessels begin to lose the ability to effectively pump blood. Plaque buildup leads to heart attacks and it also reduces the amount of oxygen and nutrients that your blood carries to your brain. When the nutrients don’t make it there, the brain’s ability to function is compromised.

To prevent this from happening, make sure you get moving every day. Even if it’s just a brisk walk, it’ll help you maintain and increase your mental acuity. Brisk walking, swimming and dancing are all excellent activities. Take a look at these 5 Ways to Find Time for Exercise.

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2. Eliminate Stressors and Seek Help If You’re Depressed

Anything that causes you major stress, like anger or anxiety, will in time begin to eat away the parts of your brain that are responsible for memory. Amongst the most brain-damaging stressors is depression, which is actually often misdiagnosed a a memory problem since one of its primary symptoms is the inability to concentrate.

If you can’t concentrate, then you might feel like you are constantly forgetting things. Depression increases the levels of cortisol in your bloodstream which elevates the cortisol levels in the brain. Doctors have found that increased cortisol diminishes certain areas of the brain, especially the hippocampus which is where short-term memories are stored.

Prolonged depression can thus destroy your brain’s ability to remember anything new. Seek professional help to combat your depression – your brain will thank you.

3. Get a Good Night’s Sleep and Take Naps

Getting a consistent 7 to 8 hours of sleep each night will increase your memory. During sleep, the brain firms up memories of recently acquired information.

Getting enough sleep will help you get through the full spectrum of nocturnal cycles that are essential to optimal brain and body functioning during the waking hours. Taking a nap throughout the day, especially after learning something new, can also help you to retain those memories as well as recharge your brain and keep it sharper longer.

4. Feed Your Brain

Fifty to sixty percent of the brain’s overall weight is pure fat, which is used to insulate its billions of nerve cells. The better insulated a cell is, the faster it can send messages and the quicker you will be thinking.

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This is precisely why parents are advised to feed their young children whole milk and to restrict dieting – their brains’ need fat to grow and work properly. Skimping on fats can be devastating even to the adult brain.

Thus, eating foods that contain a healthy mix of fats is vital for long-term memory. Some excellent food choices include fish (especially anchovies, mackerel and wild salmon) and dark leafy green vegetables. Here’re more brain food choices: 12 Foods that Can Improve Your Brain Power

Deep-fried foods obviously contain fat but their lack of nutritional value is not going to help your brain or your body, so think healthy foods and fats.

5. Eat Breakfast and Make Sure It Includes an Egg

According to Larry McCleary, M.D., author of  The Brain Trust Program, an egg is the ideal breakfast. Eggs contain B vitamins which help nerve cells to burn glucose, antioxidants that protect neurons against damage; and omega-3 fatty acids that keep nerve cells firing at optimal speed.

Other foods to add to your breakfast include fruits, veggies and lean proteins. Avoid trans fats and high fructose corn syrup. Trans fats diminish the brain cells’ ability to communicate with each other and HFCS can actually shrink the brain by damaging cells.

Having a healthy breakfast in the morning has been shown to improve performance throughout the day. If you’re too busy to have a healthy breakfast, this maybe just right for you: 33 Quick And Healthy Breakfasts For Busy Mornings

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6. Write it Down

If there’s something you want to remember, writing it down can help.

It may sound like a no-brainer, but do you really know why? Writing it down creates oxygenated blood flow to areas of your brain that a responsible for your memories and literally exercises those parts of it. Here’s How Writing Things Down Can Change Your Life.

You can start a journal, write yourself emails or even start keeping a blog – all of these activities will help to improve your capacity to remember and memorize information.

7. Listen to Music

Research shows that certain types of music are very helpful in recalling memories. Information that is learned while listening to a particular song or collection can often be recalled by thinking of the song or “playing” it mentally. Songs and music can serve as cues for pulling up particular memories.

8. Visual Concepts

In order to remember things, many people need to visualize the information they are studying.

Pay attention to photographers, charts and other graphics that might appear in your textbook; or if you’re not studying a book, try to pull up a mental image of what it is you are trying to remember. It might also help to draw your own charts or figures, or utilize colors and highlighters to group related ideas in your notes.

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Here, you can learn How to Become a Person Who Can Visualize Results.

9. Teach Someone Else

Reading material out loud has been shown to significantly improve memory of the material. Expanding further upon this idea is the fact that psychologists and educators have found that by having students teach new concepts to others, it helps to enhance understanding and recall.

Teach new concepts and information to a friend or study partner, and you’ll find you remember the information a lot better.

10. Do Crossword Puzzles, Read or Play Cards

Studies have shown that doing crossword puzzles, read or play cards on a daily basis not only keep your brain active but also help to delay memory loss, especially in those who develop dementia.

So pick up the daily newspaper and work on that crossword puzzle, read a book or enjoy a game of solitaire.

Pick one to two of these tips first and start applying them to your everyday life. Very soon you’ll find yourself having better memories and a clearer head!

More About Boosting Memory

Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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