We seem to have become a nation that is obsessed with quick and easy meals. Have you noticed in most supermarkets the first cold isle normally contains masses of microwave meals? They do cater for a diversity of cultures, but we should really look at why these meals are not good for us, and why we should ditch them completely.
Lets first focus on what microwaves do to food. A microwave oven is an appliance that cooks food by blasting it with electromagnetic radiation! This basically causes a chemical reaction to make the food build up energy and heat up. Whilst there have been many debates on whether the radiation from the microwave can damage our health, people are forgetting that due to the extreme heat the food is being cooked at, its chemical structure changes dramatically. In addition to this, most foods being cooked in a microwave are in plastic. When plastic is heated chemicals in its make up can leach out of it and into our food1. This has been associated with cardiovascular disease, diabetes and male infertility (1).
Microwaving food can also adjust the nutritional content, which was proven in a study completed on cooking brocolli (2). This means that not only does the chemical structure of our food change we are also losing out on various minerals, vitamins and antioxidants.
Microwave meals sold in the supermarket are also not the healthiest of meals even if they claim they are. They usually contain high amounts of salt, sugar, carbohydrates and preservatives. If they say low fat on them usually they contain more sugar, which was seen by the Dispatches study, who found a 400g pack of Morrisons NuMe low-fat chicken tikka masala and pilau rice contains 16.3g of sugar, compared with 7.4g in its standard frozen equivalent (3).
The main aspect that we should take from this is that pre-prepared microwave food is not giving us enough of the natural elements our bodies need to function optimally. Furthermore, heating food in the microwave disrupts the chemicals within our food causing a different chemical structure entirely. Whilst using a microwave might be a great easy option, in the long run they are stopping us from being healthy. I have some great quick healthy recipes on my recipe pages to inspire you to ditch your unhealthy microwave dinners and replace them for nutrient rich food to support you through life!
- Schecter A, Malik N, Haffner D, Smith S, Harris R, Paepke O, Birnbaum L. Bisphenol A (BPA) in U.S food. Environ science & technol. 2012;44:9425-9430.
- F Vallejo, FA Tomás-Barberán and C García-Viguera. Phenolic compound contents in edible parts of broccoli inflorescences after domestic cooking. Journal of the science of food and agriculture. 2003;83:1511-1516.
- Poulter S. Mail online. Low fat foods contain an average 20% more sugar than full fat equivalents and can increase risk of weight gain and diabetes, health experts warn. 2014 [Accessed 09.07.2014] http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2598042/Low-fat-foods-contain-20-sugar-fat-equivalents-Experts-warn-lead-weight-gain.html.