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Publication #FAR8097

Nutrition and the Microwave1

Linda Bobroff, Amy Simonne, and Meghan Lacy2

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According to a 2006 study by the University of Florida, microwaving a damp kitchen sponge for two minutes can kill 98 percent of bacteria, which might leave you wondering, how does the microwave oven affect nutrients in my family’s food?

Microwave cooking has gotten a bad rap in recent years with unsubstantiated reports circulating that microwave ovens break down vitamins and make food less nutritious. However, recent research has proven that when foods are cooked correctly, nutrients break down less in microwave ovens than with other cooking methods.This is in part because microwave cooking takes less time than conventional cooking, reducing nutrient losses that occur from long exposure to heat. Also, most nutrients lost from food in the microwave are leached into the water used to cook them, which can then also be consumed. However, because many vegetables already contain so much water, very little water needs to be used and most of the nutrients are retained.

To best utilize your microwave, follow these tips:

  • Cook with as little water as possible.

  • Use ceramic, glass, or plastic containers that are labeled microwave-safe.

  • Stir or rotate food midway through cooking time.

  • Use a food thermometer to make sure your food has reached a safe temperature.

When using plastic wrap or paper plates, experts recommend using only microwave-approved brands. Never use plastic storage or grocery bags, brown paper bags, newspaper, or aluminum foil in the microwave. Using your microwave oven properly to prepare your family’s meals can be convenient, safe, and nutritious!

Listening, learning and living together, it is the science of life. “Family Album” is a co-production of UF/IFAS Extension, the UF/IFAS Department of Family, Youth and Community Sciences, and of WUFT-FM. If you would like to learn more, please visit our website at

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Ang, C.Y.W., Chang, C.M., Frey, A.E., Livingston, G.E. 1975. Effects of heating methods of vitamin retention in six fresh or frozen prepared food products. Journal of Food Science. 1975; 40(5): 997–1003.

Park D.K., G. Bitton, and R. Melker. 2006. Microbial inactivation by microwave radiation in the home environment. J. Environ. Health. 69(5):17–24.

Schardt, David (2005). Microwave myths. Nutrition Action Health Letter, 32, 3.



This document is FAR8097 (original broadcast date September 2010, as program 695), one of a series of the Department of Family, Youth and Community Sciences, UF/IFAS Extension. Original publication date August 2013. Reviewed April 2017. Visit the EDIS website at In the interest of time and/or clarity, the broadcast version of this script may have been modified.


Linda Bobroff, professor; Amy Simonne, associate professor; and Meghan Lacy, student; Department of Family, Youth and Community Sciences, UF/IFAS Extension, Gainesville, FL 32611.

The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) is an Equal Opportunity Institution authorized to provide research, educational information and other services only to individuals and institutions that function with non-discrimination with respect to race, creed, color, religion, age, disability, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, political opinions or affiliations. For more information on obtaining other UF/IFAS Extension publications, contact your county's UF/IFAS Extension office.

U.S. Department of Agriculture, UF/IFAS Extension Service, University of Florida, IFAS, Florida A & M University Cooperative Extension Program, and Boards of County Commissioners Cooperating. Nick T. Place, dean for UF/IFAS Extension.