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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 March 13, 2019

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

Have you gotten into a rut before? Or are you in a rut right now?

You know you’re in a rut when you run out of ideas and inspiration. I personally see a rut as a productivity vacuum. It might very well be a reason why you aren’t getting results. Even as you spend more time on your work, you can’t seem to get anything constructive done. While I’m normally productive, I get into occasional ruts (especially when I’ve been working back-to-back without rest). During those times, I can spend an entire day in front of the computer and get nothing done. It can be quite frustrating.

Over time, I have tried and found several methods that are helpful to pull me out of a rut. If you experience ruts too, whether as a working professional, a writer, a blogger, a student or other work, you will find these useful. Here are 12 of my personal tips to get out of ruts:

1. Work on the small tasks.

When you are in a rut, tackle it by starting small. Clear away your smaller tasks which have been piling up. Reply to your emails, organize your documents, declutter your work space, and reply to private messages.

Whenever I finish doing that, I generate a positive momentum which I bring forward to my work.

2. Take a break from your work desk.

Get yourself away from your desk and go take a walk. Go to the washroom, walk around the office, go out and get a snack.

Your mind is too bogged down and needs some airing. Sometimes I get new ideas right after I walk away from my computer.

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3. Upgrade yourself

Take the down time to upgrade yourself. Go to a seminar. Read up on new materials (#7). Pick up a new language. Or any of the 42 ways here to improve yourself.

The modern computer uses different typefaces because Steve Jobs dropped in on a calligraphy class back in college. How’s that for inspiration?

4. Talk to a friend.

Talk to someone and get your mind off work for a while.

Talk about anything, from casual chatting to a deep conversation about something you really care about. You will be surprised at how the short encounter can be rejuvenating in its own way.

5. Forget about trying to be perfect.

If you are in a rut, the last thing you want to do is step on your own toes with perfectionist tendencies.

Just start small. Do what you can, at your own pace. Let yourself make mistakes.

Soon, a little trickle of inspiration will come. And then it’ll build up with more trickles. Before you know it, you have a whole stream of ideas.

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6. Paint a vision to work towards.

If you are continuously getting in a rut with your work, maybe there’s no vision inspiring you to move forward.

Think about why you are doing this, and what you are doing it for. What is the end vision in mind?

Make it as vivid as possible. Make sure it’s a vision that inspires you and use that to trigger you to action.

7. Read a book (or blog).

The things we read are like food to our brain. If you are out of ideas, it’s time to feed your brain with great materials.

Here’s a list of 40 books you can start off with. Stock your browser with only the feeds of high quality blogs, such as Lifehack.org, DumbLittleMan, Seth Godin’s Blog, Tim Ferris’ Blog, Zen Habits or The Personal Excellence Blog.

Check out the best selling books; those are generally packed with great wisdom.

8. Have a quick nap.

If you are at home, take a quick nap for about 20-30 minutes. This clears up your mind and gives you a quick boost. Nothing quite like starting off on a fresh start after catching up on sleep.

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9. Remember why you are doing this.

Sometimes we lose sight of why we do what we do, and after a while we become jaded. A quick refresher on why you even started on this project will help.

What were you thinking when you thought of doing this? Retrace your thoughts back to that moment. Recall why you are doing this. Then reconnect with your muse.

10. Find some competition.

Nothing quite like healthy competition to spur us forward. If you are out of ideas, then check up on what people are doing in your space.

Colleagues at work, competitors in the industry, competitors’ products and websites, networking conventions.. you get the drill.

11. Go exercise.

Since you are not making headway at work, might as well spend the time shaping yourself up.

Sometimes we work so much that we neglect our health and fitness. Go jog, swim, cycle, whichever exercise you prefer.

As you improve your physical health, your mental health will improve, too. The different facets of ourselves are all interlinked.

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Here’re 15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit (and How to Keep It).

12. Take a good break.

Ruts are usually signs that you have been working too long and too hard. It’s time to get a break.

Beyond the quick tips above, arrange for a 1-day or 2-days of break from your work. Don’t check your (work) emails or do anything work-related. Relax and do your favorite activities. You will return to your work recharged and ready to start.

Contrary to popular belief, the world will not end from taking a break from your work. In fact, you will be much more ready to make an impact after proper rest. My best ideas and inspiration always hit me whenever I’m away from my work.

Take a look at this to learn the importance of rest: The Importance of Scheduling Downtime

More Resources About Getting out of a Rut

Featured photo credit: Joshua Earle via unsplash.com

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