Microwave cooking is fast and convenient, but there’s some question as to whether it reduces the antioxidant content of veggies. Is it healthy to cook vegetables in a microwave?
Veggies are the best source of disease fighting phytochemicals, but unfortunately, most Americans aren’t eating enough of them. The reality is that less than a third of Americans eat three or more servings of vegetables a day – far less the five servings a day that are recommended. Plus the number one vegetable eaten by Americans is also the least healthy – French fries. The two reasons most people give for not eating vegetables is they hate the taste and they don’t have time to prepare them. The solution for some is to throw them into the microwave so they can get them on the table quickly; but some experts say that this could be compromising their nutritional value as well as their antioxidant benefits. Is it healthy to cook vegetables in the microwave?
Should You Cook Vegetables in a Microwave?
Studies looking at the effects cooking vegetables in the microwave has on antioxidant levels have been mixed. A study published in the Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture studied the effect microwave cooking had on antioxidant flavonoids in broccoli. The results weren’t all that encouraging. Microwave cooking destroyed 97 percent of the flavonoids, whereas boiling (another cooking method not recommended for vegetables) inactivated only 66 percent.
On the other hand, another group of studies looking at potatoes and tomatoes showed that flavonoids were better retained through microwave cooking than by boiling or baking. Other research that looked at cooking methods for over twenty vegetables found that microwave cooking and cooking on a griddle were the best ways to preserve the antioxidant power of vegetables. The results varied depending upon the vegetable tested with artichokes, green beans, and beets retained most of their antioxidants no matter what method of cooking was used.
Microwave Time and the Amount of Water Used Can Make a Difference
Antioxidant levels are affected by how much water is used during microwave cooking. When too much water is added to veggies when microwaving, the flavonoids and other antioxidants leach into the water and are discarded. Using only small amounts of water when microwave cooking minimizes this problem. Microwaving vegetables for shorter periods of time also helps to reduce loss of nutrients and antioxidants.
Should You Cook Vegetables in the Microwave?: The Bottom Line?
The time-tested way to cook vegetables to preserve their antioxidants and other nutrients is to steam them lightly using minimal water; but microwaves offer so much convenience that time challenged people may not eat vegetables at all if they can’t use a fast cooking method If you choose the microwave cooking method because you’re short on time, cook your vegetables using only a little water for the shortest time possible and you can still preserve most of the good stuff that makes veggies the healthiest choice for dinner.
Published in: Cooking