You will find there to be a few debates as to whether or not cooking foods, in particular vegetables, in the microwave will result in a loss of nutrients. But is this just fear and hear-say, or is there some truth to it? Let’s break it down.
When you microwave foods, are nutrients lost?
Explaining Nutrient Loss & How to Lessen it
Firstly, whenever you cook a food, some of nutrients are lost, you cannot avoid it. But you can lessen the amount you lose, so let’s work on that. The act of heating when cooking and how long it takes to cook is what causes the nutrient loss. So ideally we should try to cook our vegetables in the shortest time possible. And if it is suitable to do so, at a lower temperature. The microwave accomplishes this task very well. Compared to boiling (with added nutrient loss to the water) or oven baking vegetables for long periods, microwave ovens have a faster cooking time, and therefore less of a nutrient loss.
The second point, is that nutrients are not just intolerant to heat, they are also soluble in water. This means that the more water you use when cooking your vegetables, the more nutrients are lost. This is another reason microwaving vegetables is a better choice than boiling them, as long as you don’t use much water or any, as when you boil vegetables, many nutrients will get lost and wasted in the water.
Best cooking methods for preventing nutrient loss in vegetables
Good options for avoid the loss of nutrients when cooking vegetables, is to microwave or steam them, or you can even steam them in the microwave. These are both preferable to boiling, as there is less contact with the water. And are also preferable to oven baking, with the long exposure to heat causing nutrient loss.
Other ideas for cooking your vegetables include: stir-frying over the stove-top, and cooking soups or stews. With stir-frying, simply heat up your stir-fry sauce in a pan (one of my favorites is a green curry and light coconut milk), and add all your vegetables to it and cook them in the pan. Any nutrients lost will be in your sauce that you eat with your meal. Also, stir-frying does not need to be an unhealthy choice, as you do not need to ever use oil, despite what almost every recipe says. Another option is cooking vegetables in a soup or stew. Again, any nutrients that would usually be lost to water, will still be part of your meal.
When looking at these points, I do not think I have to worry about losing the nutrients when I cook vegetables in the microwave. As long as I don’t use too much water, or cook for an extended period of time, I am doing my best to keep as many nutrients as possible in my vegetables. And when I’m not using my microwave, I will stick to other methods like steaming or stir-frying without oil. This way when I eat my vegetables, I know I am getting a lot of the nutrients I want, in my body.