Whenever we’re away from home we often have to rely on the microwave oven to heat our meals at work.
But does “zapping” our food in the microwave actually destroy the nutrient contents?
According to the research, the answer is “yes”.
One study in particular published in The Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture (2003) found that broccoli “zapped” in the microwave lost up to 97% of its antioxidant content.
Other nutrients that can be reduced during the cooking process include B-vitamins, vitamins C, A, D, E and K, along with certain minerals such as potassium, magnesium, sodium and calcium.
Whilst I’m not suggesting to never use the microwave oven again due to practicalities, but using pre-heated containers to help keep your food warm (such as thermoses etc.) and taking these into work may be a good option to do every now and then.
Unnecessary reheating will help to minimise further nutrient depletion, thereby increasing the likelihood that your body is able to gain nourishment from the food that you eat.
This is especially important for shift workers given sleep disruption can affect the nutritional uptake and absorption of nutrients by impairing the lining of the gut, along with disrupting the delicate balance of microbes that reside there.
Lopez-Berenguer, C, Carvajal, M, Moreno, D & Garcia-Viguera C 2007, ‘Effects of microwave cooking conditions in bioactive compounds present in broccoli inflorescences’, Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, vol. 54, no. 24, pp. 10001-10007.
Rungapamestry, V, Duncan, A, Fuller, Z & Ratcliffe, B 2006, ‘Changes in glucosinolate concentrations, myrosinase activity, and production of metabolites of glucosinolates in cabbage (Brassica oleracea Var. capitata) cooked for different durations’, Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, vol. 54, no. 20, pp. 7628-34.
Vallejo F, Tomas-Barberan F & Garcia-Viguera C 2003, ‘Phenolic compound contents in edible parts of broccoli inflorescences after domestic cooking’, Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture, vol. 83, no. 14, pp. 1511-16.