Mythbuster: Does Microwaving Foods Destroy Nutrients?

With so much misinformation out there, it is difficult to know what you should be doing with regards to eating habits, nutritious foods and cooking methods to support your health. Separating fact from fiction is such an important step to living a healthier life. Today, we are going to bust a common myths: that microwaves kill the nutrient content of your food.

As mentioned in the Frozen Food Blog, the nutrients in fresh fruit and vegetables start to decrease as soon as they are picked. However there are ways, such as freezing foods, which help to minimise these losses.  

It is commonly believed that microwaving foods, particularly vegetables, reduces the nutrients. During all methods of cooking nutrients leach out; however some methods destroy more nutrients than others (1). Vegetables are beneficial for your diet no matter how you cook them. However you may as well try to get the most out of them where possible.

A recent study concluded that, spinach retained nearly all its folate, a water-soluble nutrient, when cooked in a microwave compared to being cooked in water on a stove where there was a seventy-seven percent loss of folate (2).  This is due to nutrients being sensitive to extended heating and water loss. The benefits of microwaving are that a small amount of water is needed and the speedy cooking reduces the amount of nutrient leaching out (3).  

So, when it comes to Hit100 meals, heating by microwaving can actually be beneficial for your health, maintaining the highest possible nutrient value of the vegetables. Especially for those meals with ingredients that contain water soluble nutrients such as folate, vitamin C and all the vitamin B complexes.  The microwaves faster speed and small amount of water used aided in preserving nutrient content of vegetables, protein and carbohydrates.

So next time you put one of our high vegetable content meals, such as the chicken and spinach casserole or our spaghetti bolognese in the microwave know that you are actually helping your health with increased nutrients being retained in the meal. Whether the taste and texture of these meals are better - you will  just have to try one and decide for yourself!

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1. Microwave impact on food. Komaroff, A. Boston : Harvard Health Publication, July 2015, Havard Health Letter, p. 2. ISSN 1052-1577.

2. Harvard Health Publishing. Microwave cooking and nutrition. Harvard Health Publishing. [Online] Harvard Medical School, August 1, 2017.

3. Development of the Maillard reaction in food cooked by different techniques. Delgado-Andrade, C., Seiguer, I., Haro, A., Castellano, R. & Navarro, M. s.l. : Elsevier Ltd, February 11, 2010, Food Chemistry, Vol. 122, pp. 145-153.