Microwaves cook in reverse

Almost every family has a microwave oven. They are often used for warm up food in cafes and restaurants. Microwave ovens cook very quickly, and without thinking why, we shove everything into them - sandwiches, hot dogs, pizza, soup and milk. However, the impact of microwaves is radically different from all the traditional methods of cooking, which affects even the flavor. They are convenient, but are they safe?

"Microwave ovens cook very quickly, and without thinking about it, we shove everything into them - sandwiches, hot dogs, pizza, soup and milk," says Dmitry Zykov, a specialist in food technology. "Microwaved meals are quite different. They are not as fragrant and appetizing, with no crust, and their texture is looser, less defined and on a dry side. Why is this happening? Microwaves cook in "reverse." Under normal cooking conditions, heat slowly enters the product, and its surface temperature is always higher. Therefore, when frying and grilling, a delicious crust is formed while the center remains juicy. In case of boiling and steaming the product becomes saturated and juicy. In case of a microwave, the products almost instantly heat up from the inside. Their surface temperature is lower, and therefore there is no crust.

However, the main difference is that microwaves do not heat the product itself, but the water contained therein. Figuratively speaking, proteins, fats and carbohydrates are almost transparent to the microwave. They affect only the electrically charged structures - water and salt. Under their influence, the water molecules begin to spin furiously, making more than 2 billion rotations per second. The water inside of the product boils and evaporates quickly, this is why eggs and products in tightly closed containers explode in microwaves. Intracellular fluid boils as well, breaking all of the membrane, which is why microwave meals have a looser texture than fried or stewed ones. During rotation of water molecules heat is generated and temperature can be much higher than during the conventional cooking. We know that the higher the temperature, the higher is the number of various substances formed, including carcinogens."

Swedish researchers proved that due to high temperatures, during microwave exposure flour and other foods rich in starch produce a great deal of carcinogen acrylamide. However, microwaves can be dangerous not only when the food is heated. They also emit specific electromagnetic waves which have not been studied. There was a notorious case of baby milk that was warmed in a microwave oven. "Dead" amino acid proline was found in the milk that is formed only in chemical synthesis and is not found in nature. Each amino acid occurs in two forms - a living (the so-called L-form) and dead (D-form). They can be compared with the left and right hand - they seem to be the same, but they will not fit into the same glove. The situation is the same with amino acids: their molecular structure is identical, but the arrangement of atoms is the opposite. "Dead" molecules are usually harmful: by embedding themselves into the membrane and enzymes, they break their structure, causing malfunction. The "dead" proline is known to be toxic to the brain and kidneys.

"The formation of these molecules by the microwave radiation is possible, but only in a liquid medium, and not in solid foods," says Dmitry Zykov." If this happens, it needs to be studied, including whether it is toxic for the body. My colleagues and I examine the effects of microwaves on humans, and not the food. It is clear that when using microwave ovens at home we have to follow certain safety rules. The main thing is to be no closer than five feet to the working microwave. This distance is beyond the reach of the electromagnetic radiation emanating from a microwave oven."

Alexander Orlov

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Author`s name Dmitry Sudakov