8 Foods That Are Better Left Out of the Microwave

Better safe than sorry.

Annabelle D’Costa

Be it making some delicious homemade popcorn or heating up leftovers from dinner, microwave ovens have always helped save the day. While re-heating food in the microwave has become a way of life, thanks to its easy-to-use features and time-saving properties, you are actually doing more harm to yourself than good. Here we list down foods you need to stop re-heating in your microwave right away. After all, it’s better to be safe than sorry.


Chicken, a great versatile protein that you can cook in many flavours, makes for an easy weeknight family dinner. However, studies suggest that re-heating cooked or cold chicken in the microwave causes the meat’s protein composition to change which could further result in digestive problems. Heating chicken in the microwave leads to non-uniform temperature distribution which can result in cold spots, posing serious health concerns.


You can poach them, scramble, scotch, roast, pickle or soft-boil them. They definitely make for the best and easiest go-to breakfast or dinner option. With the microwave in, making yourself a perfect breakfast only seems to be a few buttons away, minus all the mess and extra time. However, think twice before popping them into the microwave. As eggs are a rich source of protein, exposing them to heat time and again could result in the nitrogen content in them getting oxidised, which when consumed may cause cancer.


The ultimate comfort food, potatoes, are loaded with vitamin B6, potassium and vitamin C. However when re-heated especially in an aluminum foil, chances are they might produce Clostridium Botulinum, a type of bacteria causing botulism or food poisoning. It’s, therefore, best to keep them refrigerated and consume within one to two days.


Ideally, you should be eating your mushrooms as soon they are prepared. As they are a powerhouse of proteins and are rich in minerals, by reheating them you are breaking the proteins further, which upon consumption may cause havoc in your digestive system. Microwave or no microwave, consuming mushrooms the next day after they’ve been prepared can be hazardous to your health and is best to be avoided.

Oily foods

The first words that come to mind when one thinks of Indian food definitely ought to be an oily samosa or vada pav and some spicy butter chicken. Even the mention of these foods makes our mouths water. However, the Telegraph reports that while the oils used in such foods can withstand varying levels of heat, when that level exceeds it can produce toxic fumes and also free radicals, which lead to cancer.


One of the most important cereal grains in the world today, rice is not only easy to cook but can also be used to whip a variety of flavourful dishes. However, studies suggest that microwaving rice can sometimes lead to food poisoning. The humid environment of the warm rice makes it an ideal breeding ground for food poisoning bacteria. It is best to eat cooked rice immediately after it has been prepared as leaving it for long at room temperature leads to the spores of bacteria in it to multiply, thereby leading to vomiting or diarrhoea.

Leafy greens

If you want to save your veggies to eat later, it is best to re-heat them in a pan rather than a microwave. When tossed into the microwave, the naturally occurring nitrate content in them may convert to nitrosamines, which can be carcinogenic. Also steer clear from re-heating other nitrate-rich veggies such as beetroots and turnips.

Processed meats

With more and more people turning towards processed meats, and who can really blame them, as they often provide time-saving meal options. However, as they contain a number of chemicals and preservatives, microwaving them can make those substances worse for your health. A 2007 study in the online journal Food Control found that reheating processed meats in a microwave contributes to the formation of cholesterol oxidation products (COPs), which in turn have been linked to the development of coronary heart diseases.

Master the art of microwaving

1. Always ensure that your microwave is in top working condition and that it's cleaned and wiped dry from time to time.
2. Before re-heating your food, make sure to take out the packaging. Get rid of any cling wraps or aluminium foils because they are not heat-stable at high temperatures.
3. Only use containers that are specially manufactured for use in the microwave oven.
4. It's best to divide your food into smaller portions for thorough re-heating.
5. Stir or toss the food during the re-heating process so that the temperature is even all the way through.

Image: Shuttertock


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