If you’re trying to eat healthy, kudos to you! You may inadvertently be sabotaging your nutrition and health by how you’re cooking your food. That’s right – the way you cook some foods can actually destroy some of their vitamins and minerals, turning what you thought was a powerhouse parfait into something about as nutritious as a boot. Have no fear! Last week, boiling, poaching, broiling, grilling and microwave cooking were explored. This week, there’s more!
Roasting and Baking
Just the thought of roasting and baking probably fills your head with visions of moist and delicious meats or baked vegetable casseroles. These are very popular cooking methods, but how do they stack up nutrition-wise? The hallmark of these two cooking methods is cooking food through dry heat. Roasting usually refers to meat, while baking usually is used for bread, pies, and other yummy items. You’ll be happy to know that these cooking methods do a pretty good job at not diminishing vitamins and minerals, with one exception. When you roast meat the long cooking times at high temperature do have an impact on B Vitamins and they can decline by as much as 40 percent.
As long as you’re aware of that, you can feel good roasting and baking to your little heart’s content.
Sautéing and Stir-Frying
These are two very similar techniques where food is cooked at a high temperature and stirred often, but often with a short cooking time. This is a pretty healthy way to prepare food because the less water that can leach out of your vegetables, the more vitamins remain. Plus, these methods usually involve cooking with a fat in the form of oil and that helps you absorb more of the fat-soluble vitamins and minerals in the food you’re eating.
The only exception is stir-frying broccoli and red cabbage. The cooking process dramatically reduces the amount of Vitamin C in those vegetables. Otherwise, these are cooking methods you can feel good about.
Frying is a very popular method of cooking using a large amount of fat at high temperatures to cook food. Many times, the food being fried is coated with batter or breadcrumbs to add some flair and flavor. The truth is that frying makes food taste good and usually locks in a lot of moisture because it’s a very fast cooking process. The problem is that not all foods retain their nutrients when being fried.
Fish is a great source of omega-3 fatty acids, but frying it at high heat destroys the very delicate fats. On the other hand, frying has been found to preserve Vitamin C as well as B vitamins in food and actually increases the fiber in potatoes by converting the starch into resistant starch. But don’t start deep frying everything quite yet. Oil heated to high temperatures is not good for you, and frying food adds a lot of calories, so use it wisely and in moderation.
It shouldn’t shock you to learn steaming is one of the best cooking methods out there for preserving nutrients in food. It reduces the vitamin content in foods minimally. The only downside to steaming is that it doesn’t add much flavor, but you can easily remedy that with herbs and spices. You’re industrious like that!
So, there you have it. How did you favorite cooking method measure up?
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