7 Surprising Reasons Why Your Microwave is Your Paleo BFF

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are microwaves paleo
CAVEMEN DID NOT USE A MICROWAVE!
Yeah, I’m fully aware of the fact that microwaves were not around in prehistoric times. In fact, they were invented by Percy Spencer shortly afer WW2, and the first one was sold in 1947.

So, why is it ok (and in fact, really good) for us to use a microwave when our ancestors managed to live perfect fine without it?

Well, below are my 7 top reasons (I’ve tried to keep too much physics out of it, although the physics of how a microwave oven works is what will really open your eyes to just how OK using a microwave is).

  1. MICROWAVE OVENS ARE NOT DANGEROUS!
  2. OMG, I can’t emphasize this one enough. If you think you’re getting radiation poisoning from your microwave, then you don’t believe in anything based on science!

    Microwaves (the invisible waves that cook your food inside the microwave oven) are radio waves with a certain range of wavelengths.

    Microwaves are naturally occurring – it’s emitted from the Sun as well as every other warm thing. You emit microwaves because you’re warm!

    Additionally, very very little microwaves escape from a microwave oven. In fact, even if you drill a hole in your microwave, very very little microwave radiation will escape!

    Shocking??? Well, not if you look at the science behind microwaves…

    Microwaves have fairly long wavelengths (approx 12cm or 4-5 inches) and so holes smaller than 12cm in diameter won’t let much of those waves through. It’s like trying to fit a grown man through a cat flap…just not going to happen.

    This is pure physics from a physicist! Trust me on this one – I studied physics for a long time.

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    I know many of you will point out that a little bit of microwave radiation does escape, so here is my answer.

    It is a MINUSCULE AMOUNT, and nothing has shown that such a small amount is harmful to us (Mark Sisson raises this issue but doesn’t point to any studies suggesting it’s harmful). If you’re really worried about that tiny amount of microwaves escaping, then just stand further from the microwave. The amount of microwaves that can reach you decreases exponentially when you are further away from the oven.

    And to keep beating this dead horse, microwaves are a type of non-ionizing radiation, which means they are different to radiation like X-Rays and Gamma Rays that are ionizing radiation and has been directly linked to causing cancer in high doses.

    “But I want my house to be a radiation-free zone.”

    I hear you – radiation is some scary stuff, but you should know the facts before you go espousing some pointless cause.

    There is radiation all around you from natural sources (that has completely nothing to do with mankind). In fact, much of the radiation comes from rocks, the Sun, the sky, and your own body. Berkeley has this cool pie chart on their website here, which illustrates that only one quarter of your annual radiation exposure comes from manmade radiation sources.

    So, to be radiation-free, you’d have to escape out of this universe literally. Good luck with that.

  3. MICROWAVING MAY INCREASE NUTRIENTS
  4. microwaves increase nutrients in food
    Contrary to belief, studies are suggesting that in many cases you get to keep more nutrients in your food when you nuke than many other cooking methods (apart from steaming perhaps). Mark cites a lot of studies and provides a very good analysis of them here.

    Chris Kresser also reaches the same conclusion: “the balance of studies seem to suggest that microwaving is safe, doesn’t reduce nutrient levels, and may even reduce nutrient levels less than some other forms of cooking, although the studies did seem to suggest that using lower settings on the microwave is probably better for preserving nutrients.”

  5. MICROWAVING MAY SAVE YOUR MARRIAGE
  6. I’m not big on washing up. I end up cooking all the time, and so it annoys me to have to wash up after cooking.

    Jeremy is a darling and tries to remember to wash up, but he will inevitably forget, and then we will argue…

    But when you microwave, you place your frozen or refrigerated dinner (prepared over the weekend or in the slow cooker overnight) on a plate, stick that plate for a few minutes in the microwave, and then eat off that same plate. That’s ONE PLATE to wash up per person.

  7. MICROWAVES CAN SAVE YOUR DIET
  8. Ever get home exhausted and just want to get pizza or a burger instead of having to cook? Yeah, that happens to me a lot.

    That’s when just sticking some leftover refrigerated or frozen Paleo food into a microwave is almost more convenient than ordering pizza!

  9. ANYONE CAN MICROWAVE
  10. Anyone can use a microwave. If you think you can’t do Paleo because you don’t know how to cook, then you’re making crazy excuses.

    Armed with just a slow cooker and a microwave, ANYONE can do Paleo!

    I really mean that.

    You can even make eggs and bacon in a microwave. And let’s not forget microwave Paleo bread (one of my favs). Bread in 90 seconds. I challenge you to mess that up.

  11. MICROWAVES MAY SAVE YOU FROM BURNING DOWN THE HOUSE
  12. I have come close to burning down my apartment MANY MANY TIMES.

    Believe it or not, hard boiling eggs is my biggest risk, but that’s a story for another day.

    With a microwave, there’s that beautiful timer, and then it stops automatically so you don’t have to stress about forgetting to turn of the stove when you leave the house.

  13. MICROWAVES ARE AS PALEO AS YOUR COMPUTER/PHONE/TABLET DEVICE
  14. I want to round out this list by going back to what I started with – that cavemen did not have microwaves.

    If you feel that we shouldn’t microwave our food because cavemen didn’t have microwaves, then let me tell you that you’re a hypocrite (sorry!).

    Cavemen also did not have whatever device you’re reading this article on, but yet you’re using that!

    So, as far as I’m concerned, microwaves ARE Paleo! In fact, they’re SUPER PALEO, because they help me to STAY PALEO!

So, what are your thoughts? I know many people have strong views on microwaving their food, but PLEASE keep your comments polite :)

Images: photo credit: jmv, JoshuaDavisPhotography, faith goble.

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{ 16 comments… add one }

  • Bryan August 12, 2013, 7:55 am

    Excellent post! Since I work on radars (some of which use magnetrons similar to those found in microwave ovens), I’ve had a hard time embracing the “microwaves are killing your food” argument. However, I wasn’t too sure about how it was affecting nutrient quality. My research has shown much of what you talk about in this post, so I microwave every now and again without thinking twice about it.

    Reply
    • Louise August 12, 2013, 11:53 am

      Thanks Brian, glad your research points to the same.

      Reply
  • Freddy Bach August 12, 2013, 8:26 am

    It’s not the problem with the micro, microwave oven is not dangerous

    The problem is, when you use it for boiling or cooking it damage the fiber in the food, and that’s why micro is not good

    The Microwave works from inside, If you’re using The microwave boiling vegetables, The vegetables very often be like mushrooms, Overcooked and with damage fiber.

    The fundamental thing, to live healthy is to have a lot of fiber in your food and not spoil it.

    Reply
  • Mary Beth Elderton August 12, 2013, 8:28 am

    I’m so glad to read this and hope a lot of people get this message, not just Paleo, but all Whole/Real food lovers. There seems to be some confusion over the word “radiation”–a microwave oven is NOT “radioactive!” lol

    Reply
    • Louise August 12, 2013, 11:48 am

      Yes, definitely something that annoys me!

      Reply
  • John August 12, 2013, 8:52 am

    Absolutely one of the worst Paleo posts I’ve read! They are as Paleo as your phone, tablet, and computer? I cannot remember the last time I consumed something cooked by my iPad. I’m literally at a loss because this post should not be on a website that talks about Paleo. You have no idea what Paleo means…period.

    Reply
    • Louise August 12, 2013, 11:57 am

      My idea of Paleo is increasing nutrients and lowering toxins. Since microwaves do not reduce nutrients and do not increase toxins in foods, I don’t see a problem with it. Do you think Paleo stands for something other than reducing toxins and increasing nutrients to our body?

      Reply
    • stef August 22, 2013, 6:48 pm

      I agree John.
      First time Iv stumbled on this blog, your recipes look amazing Louise but im against microwaves, iv done my own research but the blog below spells it out beautifully.
      http://www.helladelicious.com/our-food/food-facts/2011/02/microwave-ovens-health-issues/

      Reply
      • Louise August 22, 2013, 11:46 pm

        Thanks Stef, I’ve read many of those arguments before actually, and most of them have been dispelled by actual scientific studies (many of the issues cited, including the “Swiss Connection” are NOT studies published in peer-reviewed journals). For example, the baby formula issue was refuted by several later studies (http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/jf00010a034 and http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/0958694695000097).

        I understand that an article like the one you’re citing can make microwaves sound scary, but those issues are sadly not based on real science or else rely on out-of-date science (almost everything in that article has since been refuted many times over).

        Reply
  • Salixisme August 12, 2013, 10:13 am

    I agree that microwaves are not harmful.
    But that isn’t the reason why I rarely use mine for cooking – I dislike the fact that it does not brown anything. I would never make your microwaved bread for example because it will not brown and get a crispy crust… and for bread, I WANT that crust…
    I do use it for defrosting frozen food (not fish though – I find it cooks it at the same time that it defrosts it and then it ends up overcooked), I use it for reheating leftovers as well. But rarely for actual cooking.

    Reply
    • Louise August 12, 2013, 11:48 am

      That’s a very valid point, and I suggest putting the bread into the oven after to crisp it actually (microwaving just saves time cooking it). I do also generally just use it for warming food and occasionally for defrosting.

      Reply
  • Suzie August 12, 2013, 2:44 pm

    I had read to keep every EMR emitting device away from your body, that includes cellphones, microwaves, electronic alarm clocks, TV’s etc… seems to make good sense to me! We have a 2m ‘rule’ in our house with the microwave, and it is on the opposite side of the room to the sink and stove. Our main concern however with cooking food in the microwave, was a very compelling scientific documentary we saw on Discovery Channel about how they had found microwaved food was changed into molecules that were not recognizable as a food form… that was scary, but maybe they overcooked it? Anyway, we now hardly ever use the microwave for actual “cooking”, but we do tend to use it for a bit of re-heating on low heats ONLY (which is a little on the lines of what you suggest), and for the odd bit of defrosting. I would rather throw it away but hubby likes the convenience, so we keep it and use it from time to time, but with common sense, not for every single thing. :)

    Reply
  • AmandaS August 12, 2013, 8:19 pm

    As you say Suzie, reports I have read indicate that radiolytic compounds were created in root vegetables and other foods, despite the studies using medium heat and not over cooking. Perhaps radiolytic compounds are fine; however I haven’t yet been assured of this.

    We keep our microwave in the garage and only use it in emergencies.

    Gas is so quick to cook with anyway – I just had to change my habits a little bit and do a little extra washing.

    In regards to EMFs and waves from phones etc, Applied Kinesiology has demostrated many times that a person loses specific muscle strength (an indicator of their vital force) when mobile phones etc are brought closer to them. The stronger the person’s internal energy, the less of an impact is has however – another great reason to be paleo!

    Reply
  • MikeS August 18, 2013, 1:28 pm

    I don’t know the actual physical mechanism by which microwaves heat food, just heard that it heats from the inside by exciting water molecules. I’m surprised by how quickly rock-hard fats like butter, tallow, cheese, heat up in the microwave. In one of those scare reports, someone wrong that microwaving can rupture CH bonds. So two questions: True? And Why do fats and fatty foods heat up so quickly?

    As to cooking eggs in the microwave, I don’t do it. Easy enough, and pleasurable, really, to use a skillet or omelet pan. I really enjoy the whole process.

    No less an authority than Michel Roux read the riot act to an aspirant on “Escoffier” (kind of a nice-guy Hell’s Kitchen), for admitting that he microwaves scrambled eggs as his first test (cooking an egg). He was eliminated. Not sure this is the actual segment, but it and the series is definitely worth watching. Why can’t we get stuff as good as the BBC?

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p00ypy02

    Reply
  • Eileen @ Phoenix Helix August 29, 2013, 11:47 pm

    Let’s give a cheer for science!!! I work in the alternative health field and believe strongly in holistic health, but there’s so much quackery in my field also. I’m shocked at what people will believe. The “microwaves are dangerous” argument never made sense to me (except for cooking in plastic). But you won’t see me use a sous-vide machine for the same reason. Thanks for speaking your intelligent mind, Louise.

    Reply

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Louise Yang Ancestral Chef

Hi! I'm Louise - I am "beyond gluten-free," grain-free, paleo/primal, a lawyer, an ex-physicist, a cook, a blogger, a Brit living in the US, an ex-violin player, an occasional crossfitter, a mystery book junkie, and of course, I am the Ancestral Chef :) Read my About Me Page for more!

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