Sign up for NEW free healthy recipes - Currently over 300,000 subscribers!

Microwave: Friend or Foe?

Pin It!


The first time I ever heard that using a microwave was “bad for you” was a few years ago, in a little health food shop.  I was explaining to the store clerk how I make a certain recipe, and when I got to the part about using the microwave, she turned white as a ghost and literally screamed at me: “DO NOT use the microwave!  It is the devil!  It can kill you!” (She went on and on.)

Her creepy outburst didn’t cause me to stop using “the devil” (It did, however, cause me to stay away from that store!)  But it opened my eyes to the possibility that microwaves might not be as safe as I’d thought.

So are microwaves harmful?

Some studies say they are.  However, some studies say coffee is bad, some studies say soy is bad, some studies say using cell phones causes cancer.  Then there are other “some studies” that say all of this isn’t true.  People use microwaves every day—people like my great grandma who lived to be over 100.  (But then again, my grandma only used microwaves for a very short period of her life, as they obviously hadn’t yet been invented when she was a young girl.)

What to believe?

One could drive oneself crazy trying to figure it all out!  And that’s not healthy either.  So until there is conclusive evidence that microwaves are dangerous, I’m going to look out for my mental health/sanity first and keep using mine.

What are your thoughts on the safety of microwaves? 

Debate me, debate each other, debate yourself if you wish… just keep it respectful (i.e. don’t turn into the scary lady from my story).

Rate this recipe

Katie is the baker, photographer, and author of the popular blog Chocolate-Covered Katie. Her favorite food is chocolate, and she believes in eating a balanced diet that includes dessert every single day. More about Katie—> 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. JCD says:

    I figure if microwaves have passed all the super-strict safety tests to be used on the International Space Station, they must be pretty safe. NASA is highly concerned about radiation levels, so if microwaves were truly horrible, they wouldn’t be using them.

    However, we don’t have a microwave at home. My husband doesn’t like them. And while I’m rather indifferent, I won’t be trading in my toaster oven any time soon.

    And… just to throw it out there, microwaves do change the chemical compositions of some foods. That’s unavoidable. Just like baking a cake solidifies it. I’m not too sure about what happens on a molecular level though – I’m not a chemist – but I’m curious to learn more.

    Some tips for those with concerns: stay at least 1 metre away from the microwave whilst in use, buy a good quality one with a good door seal – that’s the key, and wait two minutes after microwaving something before you eat it.

  2. I don’t use the microwave too much. I remember growing up my mom and grandma always telling me that it made foods ‘gummy.’ They always reheated things in the oven. I have always stayed far back from the microwave because I heard that the radiation can harm you. Who knows?! Like you said – everything these days has been deemed ‘bad.’ Like everything else, I’m sure it’s ok in moderation. 🙂

  3. brandi says:

    I’m not sure what to think – I don’t use it all the time, so I don’t think it’s that bad. and, if there were such bad things happening from using it, you’d think we would know by now! People use them all the time, you know?

    love the ginger boys 🙂

  4. Pam says:

    We use one, but I have heard all the same things before also! I say follow your gut! he he!…no pun intended…lol!

    Katie…did you know that today is ‘National Chocolate Covered Anything Day’?


  5. in case anyone is interested, as I understand it microwaves heat food by releasing microwave radiation with wavelength on the order of the size of a water molecule. The radiation excites water molecules and other polarized molecules to heat the food; a lot of this water is lost in heating, which is probably why microwaves can make food “gummy”.

    one nice feature of microwaves is that it does not directly heat plates and other cookware. Any heat on your plate is coming from the food, not the microwave radiation, so plates, bowls, etc. tend to be cooler than the food. As someone very susceptible to burns, I like this 🙂

    so to throw in my two cents — i like my microwave. i don’t use it everyday, but i use it when i need to/want to without worrying about it.

  6. Jessica says:

    I have a microwave, but I mostly only use it when I’m in a hurry. Otherwise, I make my oatmeal on the stovetop and reheat leftovers in the toaster oven. As far as micros being healthy or not, I think it’s a case of “everything in moderation”.

  7. Lara says:

    I have yet to see any credible research that shows they are dangerous. Articles on “holisitc”health websites do not = credible research.
    For many foods, microwaves are the best way to cook to preserve the most nutrients.

  8. molly says:

    I use it all the time for convenience purposes. It’s not something that concerns me – If something definitive comes out (just like it did for cigarettes), I would obviously stop.

  9. I think using a microwave from time to time is fine.

    You hear so many conflicting studies and ideas. Some people say microwaving causes food to lose all nutritional value, some people say that microwaves preserve nutrients in food.

    I say, if it’s convenient for you, use the microwave.

    Don’t be a slave to ‘wave… ha… but use it when you need it. You’ll be JUST fine 🙂

  10. janetha says:

    KATIE. today is national chocolate covered anything day! i immediately thought of you 🙂

  11. kandkfood says:

    I think microwaves can be useful because they cook things so rapidly and I’ve heard (read?) that this can be better in terms of nutrients. I don’t have a study on hand to back me up though! On the other hand, whenever I use the microwave I try not to stand in front of it or even near it. This is due to my stepmom telling me the radiation coming out of the microwave would cause brain tumors. Way to scare a kid! Though I have no idea if this is accurate, I’ve never stood in front of the microwave since!

  12. Abby says:

    I totally use my microwave.. I try to use the stove, though, if at all possible (ex: soup tastes better, to me, heated through on the oven than in the micro). I try not to stand like super close or like stick my head in it or anything! lol

  13. I won’t lie. I fear the microwave. Ours broke last year, and we never fixed it. I didn’t use it anyway, but my husband prefers nuked sweet potatoes to oven-baked as he doesn’t like it to get all syrupy and sweet…there’s a crazy man story for ya, and don’t even get me started on his ability to cover everything in socks. Leaves his socks everywhere!!! Still love him though. 🙂

    Just don’t know if all those microwave rays our good for our body. My theory is better safe than sorry, and using the stove-top for the melted banana trick works just as well. Trust me on that one. 🙂

  14. Crystal says:

    Microwaves creep me out bottom line. I grew up with one, had one in my first place, and got a new one for my wedding- and I got rid of them all.. Well I donated them… let someone else use that crap!

  15. Jo says:

    I use my microwave a bit (and use the one at work a LOT) but prefer cooking in the oven or on the stove, purely because I think it tastes better.

    However…. I must say I just don’t think about whether its bad or not, I mean EVERYTHING seems to be bad for you – one minute its good, the next its bad, then good again…. blah blah blah… you can’t believe anything anymore (I’m a bit jaded!!). I still take my vitamins in the morning even though they are supposed to bad for me now, I drink too much coffee, tea, red wine and eat too much chocolate – oh wait – they are going through “good” phases at the moment? sure that will change tomorrow.

    Want to hear a classic – a (dippy) friend of mine was told that you shouldn’t heat milk in the microwave because it doubled the fat content and she therefore point blankly refused to use a microwave at all because she was convinced it was true and that it might apply to other foods I tried to tell her that it wasn’t true but she was convinced and in any event it wasn’t worth the risk!!

  16. taleoftwovegans says:

    While I don’t necessarily think that microwaves are the greatest things to be using everyday, I suspect that they are totally spectacular compared to all the wireless signals everyone uses these days (I’m pretty sure that in 30 years we’ll all have brain cancer). Still, I don’t have a microwave. Mostly, because sticking a pot on the stove to heat stuff up really isn’t a big hassle for me. And, it’s fun to say that I don’t have one. (I’m weird like that) 🙂 -Eve

  17. VeggieGirl says:

    I think microwaves are good in moderation – it’s that the cliché? Haha 😀

  18. the vegster says:

    I don’t much like using microwaves, whether or not they kill more nutrients than stove top cooking, or are good/bad for you. I don’t like the way things microwaved taste, or the texture. I must prefer my conventional oven or convection/toaster over 🙂 Unless I’m absolutely in a time crunch and am wanting something super quick (like Amy’s frozen indian dinners …mmmm!!) after coming home from a long day at school I will use the microwave, but that’s once in a blue moon. I don’t even use it to heat water – I use my kettle. I guess my long ramble in sum is I’m a stove-top/oven girl.

    VeggieGirl is right though, moderation is key – don’t use the microwave for everything.

  19. Carolyn says:

    I love my microwave, could not live without it…and use it multiple times every day…. BUT…i also have one of those little microwave monitor things that are about as big as a small box of matches… Sits on the counter in front of the microwave at all times and at should register a little blink.. if anything naughty is escaping. I often will pick it up and run it around the seal while something is cooking, just to pass the cook time, and to keep peace of mind… Would never be without that little tester..

  20. Cassie says:

    Microwaves aren’t bad in my opinion, but then again, I’m no scientist. However, I believe that ANYTHING can be bad for you if you believe it is. Like your examples: coffee, soy, using cell phones…it’s all the same. If you focus on the negative parts of life, that’s what you’re gonna get. If you expect to get sick from using the microwave, chances are, you will. I just try to let all that stuff go and use my intuition. If I feel like making my oatmeal in the microwave or heating up a veggie burger in there, I’m going to. I really believe it’s the stressing about crap that gets people sick, not the actual so-called bad thing.

Want To Get Healthier?

Opt in to receive new FREE healthy recipes each week - delivered straight to your inbox!