People have used the microwave oven without mercy ever since the microwave oven hit the market in the 1970s. Nuking food is the easiest and fastest way to reheat leftovers or cook instant meals, and that won’t change soon.
The microwave oven is handy, sure, but there’s are a few risks involved in using it too. Not everything should be reheated, and you could be putting your health at risk without knowing. Here are 10 foods that you shouldn’t reheat in a microwave.
#10 – Eggs
Eggs are very nutritious, but they’re delicate food. There are a few risks related to eggs and microwaves you should know of. Microwaving hard-boiled eggs is a big no-no; they can explode. The moisture inside eggs will undoubtedly try to escape violently, and it’s not pretty.
If that wasn’t enough, eggs cooked in other ways like omelets and scrambled eggs are not to be reheated in the microwave either. Eggs have large amounts of nitrogen and sulfur compounds, which oxidize when quickly heated, becoming toxic.
#9 – Baby food
Microwaves overheat food, and it’s hard to assess its real temperature. You might not know this, but hundreds of burned babies are reported every year, and accidents are mostly related to microwaved baby food.
The thing is that we rarely try baby food before feeding our children, and even if the surface feels barely warm to the touch, the core might be steaming hot!
#8 – Chicken
Chicken carries lots of bacteria, including salmonella and listeria. From all meats, chicken needs the most attention; it has to be cooked thoroughly to be completely safe.
Relying on the microwave to defrost, cook, or reheat chicken is risky business. Microwaves don’t cook food evenly, and there’s a big chance for bacteria to survive.
Perhaps less important, but also worth mentioning: the microwave dries chicken, and no one wants chewy, contaminated chicken.
#7 – Plastic containers
You should avoid reheating food in plastic containers. Microwaves act on plastic in the same way as they do on food, and there’s a high risk of chemical contamination.
Soft plastic can even melt in the oven, and the fumes could taint your food with harmful compounds. Even food-safe plastic containers are not that safe when compromised by high temperatures.
#6 – Leafy Greens
Here’s an interesting fact. Leafy greens like kale, spinach, and broccoli have high amounts of nitrates, healthy nutrients particularly beneficial to your circulatory system, that when heated in the microwave can become nitrites, harmful compounds linked to cancer.
Beetroots have nitrates too, so don’t nuke them either. Nitrates, like sodium nitrate and potassium nitrate, are used as preservatives in processed food like bacon and sausages, which makes them un-microwavable too.
#5 – Rice
Rice is a great energy source, but the grain has a fatal flaw, it often hosts harmful fungi and bacteria. These microorganisms are eliminated when you cook the rice, but the spores remain. Particularly spores of Bacillus cereus can thrive as rice cools down, and bacteria grow again.
Eating reheated rice could be dangerous if too many bacteria are allowed to repopulate your meal.
#4 – Coffee
This one is not dangerous or bad for your health, but you shouldn’t reheat coffee for another critical reason, it’s not as tasty.
Coffee is a sophisticated drink; the aromatic compounds that we all love can be destroyed by microwaves making our coffee taste just bitter and not very pleasant.
#3 – Processed Meat
Processed meat has trans fats and cholesterol. It’s this cholesterol that can become cholesterol oxidation products (COPs) when microwaved; compounds linked with heart disease.
As mentioned before, processed meats have nitrates as preservatives that can become harmful nitrites in the oven.
#2 – Potatoes
Potatoes are such a good calory source that they’re often plagued with microbes and bacteria which love to munch on the starchy vegetable. Once cooked, potatoes become a suitable environment for bacteria like C. Botulinum, the botulism bacteria. Reheating potatoes in the microwave doesn’t kill the bacteria, making them potentially harmful.
#1 – Anything twice
You should avoid microwaving the foods above, but actually, all food can be harmful if you’re not careful. Never reheat food twice. Every time you do, bacteria multiply, and bacteria resists microwaves, so you’re turning regular leftovers into deadly food.
Reheating food once is already risky, but more than once is a guarantee of an upset stomach or worst.
Nuke at your own discretion.
The microwave oven is a time-saver, and it has proven to have little to no downsides when it comes to your wellbeing. Although foods above might cause inconveniences, mainly when reheated, there’s no reason to stop using your oven with caution.
Common sense goes a long way, so if your food doesn’t look or smell like it should, play it safe and throw it away, not all leftovers can be saved.