Microwave Cooking

Microwave cooking destroys nutrients. Work done by Cristina Garcia-Viguera and team measured flavinoids (antioxidents) in broccoli after steaming, pressure-cooking, boiling, and microwaving. While steaming left levels nearly the same as those found in raw broccoli, pressure cooking cut them by more than half, boiling by over 80%, and microwaving nearly eliminated them. (Our bodies do not absorb the nutrients from raw foods as efficiently as from cooked.) Garcia-Viguera believes that the internal cell heat generated by microwaves is the cause.
Additionally, the blanching typically done to vegetables before commercial freezing also decreases nutrient content (research by Riitta Puupponen-Pimia). Both studies appeared in J. Science of Food and Agriculture, vol. 83 (reported in New Scientist [25 Oct 2003]). (10/29)
Add note. The experiment protocol compared 3 1/2 minutes of steaming to 5 minutes of microwaving, for not a lot of broccoli, so it’s a legitimate criticism of the study to wonder if the real finding wasn’t about microwaving per se, but rather about overcooking.

But don’t throw out the microwave yet. Earlier we reported results suggesting microwave cooking destroyed nutrients. However, the results may not be as clear as initially reported. The experiment protocol compared 3 1/2 minutes of steaming to 5 minutes of microwaving, for not a lot of broccoli. It’s a legitimate criticism of the study to wonder if the real finding wasn’t about microwaving per se, but rather about overcooking. (11/27)

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