Re: Does microwaving destroy nutrients in food?

I wasn't sure if I should add the health tag to this question or not. Nutrition, obviously, fits the bill here. However, I'm not sure how the health tag differs. I see a lot of questions that have both, and the question "Sugar for babies food" uses Health, but not Nutrition, whereas I see it as definitely needing a Nutrition tag.

Is there a functional difference between Health and Nutrition, and if so what's the elevator speech description on how to know which to use?

  • Thanks for the answers, all. I'm going to remove the two tags and add [food-science] as was suggested, makes perfect sense to me as explained below. Aug 18, 2010 at 17:41

3 Answers 3


Both subjects are off topic and neither tag should exist at all.

If you think that the question can be rephrased as pertaining more to either food preparation or food safety (the latter falling under the on-topic food handling category), please edit and retag the question. Otherwise, you should vote to close. If I look at the 21 [health] questions, I see many questions that, IMO, really don't belong here.

(Note: There is one exceptional case that the community appears to agree on, and that is allergies. This exception makes sense to me because cooking for somebody with allergies requires many special precautions and techniques. Those questions should be tagged specifically as [allergy]. [health] is superfluous.)

P.S. In case you're wondering, I don't think your question is off-topic because microwaving is still cooking. I don't think it really needs either the [health] or [nutrition] tags, though.

Update: I wanted to mention that my problem with these tags isn't just that they're off-topic. It's also that their meaning is completely subjective. Every cook wants to make healthy and nutritious meals, but what does that actually mean? Low-fat? Low-sugar? Low-carb? Gluten-free? Non-allergenic? Low-acid? High-fiber? High-protein? All of these things are "healthy" to someone, depending on their genes and their lifestyle. And all of those subjects would make great tags. But [health] is practically useless because even somebody who is interested in health issues is going to have a hard time finding what they're looking for in that tag. And [nutrition] really isn't far off.

If a question is so general that it can't be pinned down to a specific health or nutrition concern, then it can't really be answered in any meaningful way (not in the context of a cooking site, anyway). I rank these tags even lower than [technique] in terms of their actual utility.

  • Thanks! I get what you're saying, and thank you so much for that link in the first sentence, I hadn't read that yet and I learned a lot from that specific answer and its comments. Editing my question now! Aug 18, 2010 at 17:43

is there a way to effectively communicate that health would be more pertinent to discussions about eating as it pertains to the body, and nutrition would be more pertinent to the actual chemistry of the food (as in this question)?

i rand into a similar problem on the coffee proposal site, where it was this mush-y blend of the two. at worst maybe delete 'health' tags as this site doesnt pertain to health and wellness?

  • That's my initial thought as well (delete the health tag). Unfortunately I envision it would keep coming back, as people don't necessarily think of the word "nutrition" as readily as "health". I feel like it would be a Sisyphean task to keep directing people to use nutrition instead, even if it might be the right path. Also, good description of the difference, I can get on board with that! Aug 17, 2010 at 17:01
  • 1
    If necessary we can synonimize and even black list tags
    – hobodave
    Aug 17, 2010 at 21:43

They're probably going to be turned into synonyms, so it won't matter which one you use.

Health and nutrition are technically off-topic, but the demand for information related to them is both persistent and often difficult to dis-entangle from questions about food preparation. So, it still seems like a useful tag to me. (Plus, I like nutrition and find it to be a worthy addition to the knowledge-base of a chef).

  • Indeed, several aspects of cooking/food prep relate to health, which is why the off-topic category is labeled "general health/diet issues". It seems to me that there is always a specific health concern, though - i.e. allergies, fat, gas, you get the idea. I think that all of those are valid, but if it can't be narrowed down any further and the question is merely about "health" or "nutrition", then it's probably not a very good question. Classic example on this site is the "is margarine healthier than butter?" question - totally subjective and not very helpful to a cook.
    – Aaronut
    Aug 18, 2010 at 0:34
  • In this case, I'd mark the question as being about [food-science], not [health] or [nutrition]. The OP is really looking for specific answers about what microwaving does to food and why it's harmful or detrimental (or why not).
    – Aaronut
    Aug 18, 2010 at 0:36
  • @Aaronut: I agree, there is a component where it is reasonable also to expect a cook to say here's this brand of "vegan cheese", is it vegan? (due to the conditional nature of the definition, the 'nutrition as chemistry' keeps the question and answer relevant.) also, you might say 'here is food X' will it trigger an allergic reaction (ie to nuts, dairy)? Nutrition as chemistry, and not wellness, can provide us a hardline for answers, as opposed to hokey subjective answers about the health of different foods.
    – mfg
    Aug 18, 2010 at 13:34

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