Is Microwaving Food Dangerous?

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There is a lot of concerning and seemingly contradictory information on the web concerning the safety of microwaving food. Some say using microwave ovens is perfectly safe, while others claim they will destroy the nutrients in your food. What’s really going on? In this article, we’ll attempt to sift through these claims and find the truth.


Microwave ovens were first developed in the late 1940s and used on ships in the US Navy. These ovens were size of refrigerators and cost over $50,000 in today’s dollars. It would be a few more decades before the technology improved enough to make them commercially viable. By the 1970s, the ovens had become small and cheap enough to be marketed as home appliances, and thus the Western world’s love affair with microwave cooking was born. 90% of Americans use microwave ovens regularly, and the rest of the world is steadily catching up. With this many people using this technology, it becomes more important that we settle this issue of whether or not microwave use for cooking is dangerous.


How a Microwave Works

All cooking methods alter the molecular structure of foods, causing them to become more digestible, taste better, or both. Cooking also has the benefit of killing certain germs. Traditional cooking methods, like open flames, stovetops, or ovens cook food by heating up the air molecules surrounding the food or transferring heat directly to the food.

Microwave ovens work in a very different manner. The ovens emit a form of radio-frequency energy called “microwaves” which cause the water molecules within the food items to move rapidly. This vibrational friction generates thermal energy through a process called dialectic heating, which cooks the food from the inside out. The ambient temperature inside the oven, even when it’s being used, is the same as room temperature. You can feel the heat standing over a skillet, not so with a microwave oven.

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