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Is It Healthy to Eat Microwaved Foods?

A lot of the controversy on microwave cooking began in the late 80's to the 90's. Suspicion of the potential dangers of microwave cooking started with reports being published by a Swiss Study documented in NEXUS Magazine, as well as research from Germany and Russia dating all the back to the 1940's. What they found was hazardous…

Microwave cooking was found to cause adverse changes in people's blood, and deterioration of their systems. It didn't end there. The German and Russian studies showed cancerous, neurological, cellular, and endocrine effects.

Even though we've outlined these studies below, you can see in depth descriptions of both of these studies by clicking the links at the bottom of this page.

Let's take a look at NEXUS magazine's discussion on this in Volume 2, #25 (April-May '95). It was originally printed from the April 1994 edition of Acres, USA.

The article describes Tom Valentine's (a journalist) account of hearing a radio announcement from 1989 sponsored by Young Families, The Minnesota Extension Service of the University of Minnesota. The radio announcement was placing a warning about heating a baby's bottle in a microwave and although the outside of the bottle may be just warm, the inside could be scalding hot. It also explained that the buildup of steam in a closed container such as a baby's bottle could cause it to explode. Along with that was that there can be changes to the breast milk or infant formulas. It advised reverting back to warming the bottle under the tap and testing the temperature on the wrist. That was enough to cause Valentine to start investigating what else might be occurring using a microwave that the general public might not be aware of.

Valentine learned of a Swiss food scientist named Hans Hertel that would be able to discuss more about this issue. Hertel worked as a food scientist for several years for many major Swiss food companies. He was known for his investigative and questioning nature. However his job didn't take kindly to that. Especially since he was investigating if the way some foods were being processed actually destroyed the foods.

Valentine met with Hertel in Germany and learned more about Hertel, specifically his studies with microwaving food.

Hertel's studies looked at the effects of microwaved nutrients on the blood and physiology of human beings. Hertel worked with Bernard H. Blanc of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology and the University Institute for Biochemistry to perform the experiment. The conclusion he came to was that: "microwave cooking changed the nutrients so that changes took place in the participants' blood; these were not healthy changes but were changes that could cause deterioration in the human systems."

Hertel controlled the experiment by taking eight participants, including himself, to perform the study. Hertel also explained, "To control as many variables as possible, we selected eight individuals who were strict macrobiotic diet participants from the Macrobiotic Institute at Kientel, Switzerland. We were all housed in the same hotel environment for eight weeks. There was no smoking, no alcohol and no sex."

They were then studied with the following foods and methods of preparation in intervals of 2-5 days given these food variants on an empty stomach. Each of the individual's blood was studied post consumption.

The food variants included:

  1. Raw milk from a biofarm
  2. The same milk conventionally cooked
  3. Pasteurized milk from Intermilk Berne
  4. The same raw milk cooked in a microwave oven
  5. Raw vegetables from an organic farm
  6. The same vegetables cooked conventionally
  7. The same vegetables frozen and defrosted in the microwave oven
  8. The same vegetables cooked in the microwave oven

The study found changes in the blood after consuming food from the microwave. The changes reported were a "decrease in all hemoglobin values and cholesterol values, especially the HDL (good cholesterol) and LDL (bad cholesterol) values and ratio. Lymphocytes (white blood cells) showed a more distinct short-term decrease following the intake of microwaved food than after the intake of all the other variants."

Hertel went on to say, "There is extensive scientific literature concerning the hazardous effects of direct microwave radiation on living systems." It is astonishing, therefore, to realize how little effort has been made to replace this detrimental technique of microwaves with technology more in accordance with nature."

However, after his findings the Swiss trade organization tried to silence him and his research partner, Blanc. The findings weren't well received. Hertel stood his ground and requested rights to a trial and appeals to higher courts. However, it was claimed that the court dodged his appeals.

Microwave "Safe"

Most packaging and containers for microwave foods are made from plastic which poses another danger. Packaging often contains endocrine disruptors, BPA and phthalates, which can break down into the food. These estrogen-like chemicals are being linked to hormonal disruption, cancer, and obesity. This also goes for the supposed BPA-free plastics and "microwave safe" containers. In fact, a 2011 study from Environmental Health Perspectives tested 455 plastic products and found that almost all of them leached estrogenic chemicals. Heating in a microwave makes it even worse.

Infant Studies

A different study on the effects of microwaving human milk was published in the journal, Pediatrics (vol. 89, no. 4, April 1992). Richard Quan, M.D., lead the study team and John A. Kerner, M.D., from Stanford University was also on the research team.

The study stated, "A new study shows that microwaving human milk-even at a low setting-can destroy some of its important disease-fighting capabilities. Breast milk can be refrigerated safely for a few days or frozen for up to a month; however, studies have shown that heating the milk well above body temperature-37°C-can break down not only its antibodies to infectious agents, but also its lysosomes or bacteria-digesting enzymes."

It further stated that milk heated at a high temperature (72°C to 98°C) lost 96 per cent of its immunoglobulin-A antibodies, agents that fend off invading microbes. "What really surprised him, Kerner said, was finding some loss of anti-infective properties in the milk microwaved at a low setting-and to a mean of just 33.5°C."

However, other researchers looked at this report and reasoned it was due to the temperature and not the actual effects of microwaves. But the study argued that even low temperature microwave cooking of breast milk damaged the milk. That was further argued by other researchers that it's due to the uneven heat distribution when cooking with a microwave and while it may be a low temperature there can still be "hot spots."


The Russian and German Studies William Kopp, an advocate for avoiding microwave use frequently wrote about the suspect negative effects of using microwaves. Some of his work was printed in Perceptions, May/June 1996 on page 30 in the article titled, "Microwave Madness: The Effects of Microwave Apparatus on Food and Humans." The article talks about some of the earliest research that took place in 1942 at Humboldt University in Berlin, Germany. It also talks about, Russian research from 1957 where the effects of microwave ovens were studied at the Institute of Radio Technology.

According to his article, many negative health effects were discovered in the German and Russian research. In detail, it was reported that testing took place as microwaving foods at 100 kilowatts per cubic centimeter per second. That was the supposed level to be acceptable for ingestion. At this level of microwave propagation, their observations included "cancer-causing effects, destruction of nutritive value and biological effects of direct exposure of humans to microwave emissions."


Conclusion

If you are looking for more information, there's a plethora out there, much of it conflicting. The best we can do is to stay informed and abreast of new information as well as being aware of older research. Science and studies aside, from personal experience, food comes out of the microwave rubbery and altered flavor. Stick with quality slow cooking for your own good.


For More Information, please visit:

Dietary Source of Inflammation & Top Ways to Reduce It

Natural Health Articles

Health Newsletter Archive

Hidden Dangers of Microwave Cooking Hans Hertel Swiss Study

Russian & German Studies

 


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