If you strive to be healthy and eat right, sit up and pay attention! You may inadvertently be sabotaging your diet when you prepare food. This is because the way you prepare your food can have a big impact on the amount of nutrients that gets to your dinner table and ultimately into your belly. Here is how different cooking methods impact the nutrient density of your favorite foods.
You Don’t Have to Eat Raw Food to Eat Nutritious
There are benefits to cooking food. It makes it easier to digest and can actually increase the absorption of certain nutrients. Eggs are a great example since a cooked egg has, according to the Institute of Public Health, 180 percent more digestible protein than a raw egg does. Some other nutrients that may increase through cooking food are:
There are some nutrients that can be reduced through cooking. They are:
- Water-soluble vitamins such as Vitamin C and B Vitamins.
- Fat-soluble vitamins such as Vitamins A, E, D and K.
- Minerals such as magnesium, sodium, potassium and calcium.
Boiling and Poaching
Boiling and poaching are techniques that differ by temperature. Poaching, for example, requires water less than 180 degrees Fahrenheit. Boiling requires a temperature of 212 degrees Fahrenheit.
Vegetables are a great example of a food that loses nutrients when cooked in water. Boiling actually reduces the amount of Vitamin C in a vegetable more than any other cooking method. Broccoli can lose 50 percent of its Vitamin C when boiled — spinach, too.
Vitamins C and B are heat sensitive vitamins, so when they’re cooked at high temperatures the nutrients will leach out of the food. The only way to gain the lost nutrients back is to use the water they were cooked in.
The exception to the boiling rule is fish. Fish will actually retain omega-3 fatty acid when boiled.
Broiling and Grilling
Broiling and grilling is to cook food with dry heat and are pretty popular because it just tastes good. They’re also a very similar cooking process, except that in grilling, the heat comes from below while in broiling it comes from the top. The drawback to grilling and broiling is the juice leaves the meat or vegetables that you are cooking. You can lose up to 40 percent of the B vitamins and minerals when you cook with this method.
Microwaving is convenient and a lot of people cook this way. Microwaving food is actually a great way to retain nutrients since the cooking times are so short and not much water is used in the cooking process. The antioxidants found in mushrooms and garlic has been found to be retained best through microwaving. Green vegetables are another story because they can lose 20 to 30 percent of their Vitamin C in the microwave, but they still retain more from the microwave than they do during any other cooking process. Almost all foods that can be cooked in the microwave retain their nutritional value, as long as it’s not submerged in water.
Next week, we’ll explore sautéing, stir-frying, baking and roasting. Care to place any bets on which method is best to lock the nutrients in?
I do not like broccoli. And I haven’t liked it since I was a little kid and my mother made me eat it. And I’m President of the United States and I’m not going to eat any more broccoli. – George Bush, U.S. President, 1990 by Kate Ter Haar is licensed under CC BY 4.0
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