Food prep and microwaves

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Lately we have been seeing a lot of posts regarding meal prep.  Usually these are precooked foods, and many of them are often stored in plastic containers.  In addition, many meal "preppers" pop their precooked meals into the microwave for heating.  

Some time ago, advanced meal preparation was more about cleaning and cutting/chopping/slicing vegetables to be cooked later.  These "prepped" foods were then stored appropriately for later use. But now days, everything is about time saving...  But, one must ask, is saving time worth our health and well being?  

A study by Dr. Hans Hertel explored how microwaves change the molecular structure of food and the effects of that food on the human body. In his study, he found that individuals who consumed the microwaved foods experienced a decrease in HDL cholesterol, a reduced red blood cell count, and fewer white blood cells. 

Other reports have concluded that over exposure to certain types of electromagnetic radiation can be harmful.  The higher the frequency of the radiation, the more damage it is likely to cause the body.  Microwave usage can cause internal heating of the body tissues.

Microwaving cooks the food at very high temperatures in a very short amount of time. This results in a great deal of nutrient loss for most foods, especially vegetables.  Of course there are other high heat methods that are also harmful, but microwave cooking is the most intense heat in the least amount of time.  Which means unlike boiling, microwaving is better in regard to loss of nutrients.  

What is most worrisome than the non ionizing radiation from a microwave, is that even if you're not risking your health by microwaving processed foods, most microwavable containers and packaging contain an assortment of chemicals. Chemicals found in many of these containers include benzene, toluene, polyethylene terephthalate (PET), xylene, and dioxins (known carcinogens). At high temperatures, it is likely that these chemicals can absorb into the food, and intake of these chemicals presents a high health risk. 

So, if you are going to use a microwave make sure you use a glass or ceramic labeled for Microwave use. 

Never let plastic wrap touch food during microwaving because it may melt. Instead, use kitchen parchment paper, unbleached paper towels, or a domed container that fits over a plate or bowl.

Know that most takeout containers, water bottles, and plastic tubs or jars made to hold margarine, yogurt, whipped topping, and foods such as cream cheese, mayonnaise, and mustard are not microwave-safe. Not only are these containers not safe for use in a Microwave, they are formulated for one-time use only and should be tossed after you've used the contents.  They should NEVER be cleaned and reused, especially not in a microwave. 

Old, scratched, or cracked containers, or those that have been microwaved many times, may leach out more plasticizers.

Don't microwave plastic storage bags or plastic bags from the grocery store.

Before microwaving food, be sure to vent the container: leave the lid ajar, or lift the edge of the cover.

All in all, just be careful about how you reheat your prepped foods.  Remember that in many instances, prepped food is precooked food, and the more you heat it the less nutrients it will contain, and the greater your chance of potential toxin exposure. 

Tamla & Aleshia