Written by Kris Gunnars, BSc
February 15, 2019

Cooking with a microwave oven is highly convenient, as it’s simple and incredibly fast.

However, many people believe that microwaves produce harmful radiation and damage healthy nutrients.

Therefore, you may wonder whether it’s safe to use these appliances.

This article explains whether microwave ovens affect your food quality and health.

What Are Microwave Ovens?

Microwave ovens are kitchen appliances that turn electricity into electromagnetic waves called microwaves.

These waves can stimulate molecules in food, making them vibrate, spin around, and clash with each other — which turns the energy into heat.

This is similar to how your hands heat up when you rub them together.

Microwaves primarily affect water molecules but can also heat up fats and sugars — just to a lesser extent than water.

Can the Radiation Harm You?

Microwave ovens produce electromagnetic radiation.

You may find this concerning due to radiation’s negative connotations. However, this is not the type of radiation associated with atomic bombs and nuclear disasters.

Microwave ovens produce non-ionizing radiation, which is similar to the radiation from your cell phone — though much stronger.

Keep in mind that light is also electromagnetic radiation, so clearly not all radiation is bad.

Microwave ovens have metal shields and metal screens over the window that prevent the radiation from leaving the oven, so there shouldn’t be any risk of harm.

Just to be on the safe side, don’t press your face against the window and keep your head at least 1 foot (30 cm) away from the oven. Radiation decreases rapidly with distance.

Also, make sure that your microwave oven is in good condition. If it’s old or broken — or if the door doesn’t close properly — consider getting a new one.