Microwave – Friend or Foe?
Let’s talk about microwaves for just a few minutes. For years I have been hearing about how they irradiate our food, just like I’ve been hearing about my friend’s friend who woke up in a bathtub of ice missing a kidney. It could be true, but more importantly it’s scary. It’s time to do a little research.
What I discovered is that it is remarkably hard to find unbiased information about microwave cooking. There’s no shortage of websites that will tell you that microwaving your food is a terrible practice, and will give you cancer, but they are vague on the details, and don’t site their sources. Of those that do refer to scientific evidence, most point to work done by Swiss researcher Hans Hertal, so I decided to start there. Hertel did a study with eight people (yes, only eight), where he tested the levels of certain chemicals in their blood before and after eating microwaved food, and found some disturbing results in the post-microwave samples; decreased lymphocytes, decreased levels of hemoglobin and increased cholesterol.
Interesting facts; Hertel’s research was not published as a scientific study, but rather as a letter to the editor. The Journal Franz Weber, which published the letter, is not a peer reviewed journal. So who cares? What’s the big deal with peer review? In the scientific world it’s not enough to say “hey, this worked in my lab – trust me,” you publish your work so that other scientists can repeat your experiments and either support or discredit it. That’s how science works. Don’t even get me started on eight people constituting a “scientific study.”
We do know that cooking food changes it (for those interested in finding out more about an uber-healthy raw food diet – check out rawfoodlife.com). Boiling food can leach water soluble vitamins (like vitamin C), and heating food at all can denature proteins. Some argue that microwaving actually does less damage than conventional oven heating because it requires less heat for less time. Also interesting is the fact that cooking food over an open flame (BBQ style) creates those delicious little burnt bits that we all love, which contain a whole lot of proven (in REAL scientific studies) carcinogens.
If anyone out there can point me towards research (and I’m talking statistically viable, published and peer-reviewed work), on the subject of microwaving food, please let me know. This is a hunt for truth.