Hi. I was wondering whether cooking in microwave is safe? Will deep frying vegetables loses its nutrients? Thanks.

I will address the microwave question first. Many of my patients have told me that they did not use the microwave for cooking because “I hear it can cause cancer”. There is no research that says that microwave use increases risk of cancer. Microwaves work by the use of electromagnetic radiation. This heats the food up quickly and efficiently. But, keep in mind that while microwave use can be safe, the health aspect of it is still dependent on the type of food that is being heated up. I encourage my patients to still focus on getting plenty of plant based foods into their diet. They can certainly steam veggies in a little water so that they retain a lot of their vitamins. Whole grains can be cooked in the microwave (check out this website for instructions: http://www.recipetips.com/kitchen-tips/t—1021/microwaving-grains). You can cook sweet potatoes, make bean dip, and melt a little dark chocolate for a scrumptious strawberry dessert. Unfortunately, the supermarket contains many pre-made microwave-safe dishes, but they may not all be considered healthy. There are lots of frozen microwave meals that contain a very high amount of sodium, fat and calories. Some brands of microwave popcorn are riddled with large amounts of added oil and salt. So, your microwave can certainly be a convenient and safe way to prepare your meals. Just be cognizant of what you are putting into it!

I am going to offer a confession. I love the taste of deep fried vegetables! They can certainly be a healthy part of our diet. However, given that deep fried anything tends to have increased fat and calories, I do encourage my patients consume the deep fried veggies in moderation. On the plus side, you can use heart healthy oil when frying, which can help lower total cholesterol levels. Mark Bittman is a columnist with the New York Times. He recently wrote about deep fried veggies and the type of oil used. “…this whole notion that olive oil is inappropriate for frying is nonsense; it smokes at 375 (and smoking isn’t the end of the story, either). So olive oil — especially ‘pure,’ which is a step below extra-virgin and in theory less expensive — is a fine.” Also, deep frying does not necessarily cause the vegetables to lose a lot of nutrients also. In fact, some veggies have vitamins that are more bio-available in our bodies if they are heated and if we eat them with a little healthy fat. My recommendation? It is perfectly fine to deep fry vegetables (but in moderation)!

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