We eat our fruits and vegetables because we enjoy them, but we also eat them because we know we need the vitamins and minerals in them. But did you know that how you cook food can actually strip away the vitamins and minerals you think you’re getting?
There are different ways to cook your food, and some are better than others. Today, we’re going to talk about how to cook your food so you don’t lose the vitamins. This way, you can get the most nutrients out of your food.
Boiling is a foolproof way to cook vegetables. You just heat the water to the boiling point and add some salt and vegetables. Within minutes, your food is cooked and ready to eat. But this convenient cooking method comes with its drawbacks.
The high temperatures can destroy some of the enzymes in the vegetables. Additionally, since the vegetable is being cooked directly in the water, up to 70 percent of its minerals and vitamins end up in the water, which we all know gets dumped down the drain.
There’s one food that does really well when boiled slowly over many hours: bones from chicken and beef. When you cook bones slowly, you draw out lots of amino acids and collagen, which provide many healing benefits.
If you have the choice between boiling your food and steaming it, give steaming a go. Steamed foods retain all of their juices, along with a lot more of their nutrients.
One reason why people don’t always steam their veggies (or fish, for that matter) is that steamed food doesn’t taste amazing. In fact, it can be a bit bland.
You can help it out a bit by adding seasoning, like salt, pepper, spices, herbs, and even freshly squeezed lemon juice to the food before you steam it. This will give it a nice boost of flavor.
Perhaps the most common way to cook on the stovetop is sautéing. You can sauté vegetables and meat, along with some grains, like rice. Some foods actually become more nutritious when they are heated.
Take tomatoes, for example. They contain the antioxidant, lycopene. It actually becomes more available when cooked. Carrots are another vegetable whose nutrient, beta-carotene, increases with heat.
The only issue that comes up when sautéing is that it requires oil. However, not all oils are made equal. Some oils can withstand high temperature and remain stable. Other fats shouldn’t be used in high temperatures because the fatty acid structure actually breaks down. And this can cause health problems once you consume them.
Additionally, processed seed and vegetable oils, like canola, sunflower, safflower, soy, corn, and peanut are all very high in omega-6 fatty acids, which cause inflammation in the body.
So, if you like to sauté your foods, try not to overcook them to preserve their vitamins and minerals. And be sure you use an oil that can withstand high temperatures, like coconut oil, butter, lard, tallow, and ghee.
Nothing beats a summer meal right off the grill. You can grill meats, vegetables, and even fruit. You need minimal added fat, and the result is often juicy and tender fare.
However, you have to walk a fine line between food that’s cooked just right and food that’s overcooked. Research says that frequent consumption of well-done or even charred meats might increase the risk for certain cancers.
Another problem with cooking meat at such high temperatures is that it might cause a chemical reaction between the fat and protein molecules in meat, which can throw off the antioxidants in your body. We know antioxidants are necessary to fight inflammation, oxidation and free radical damage.
One reason why people cook meat so thoroughly is to prevent food borne illnesses. After all, undercooked meat does pose a health risk. However, if you purchase high-quality meats, you may not need to overcook in order to avoid food poisoning.
Grilled foods are delicious, but try to eat occasionally rather than regularly.
By placing food under high, direct heat (usually in your oven), you can cook food pretty quickly. While this is a good idea for small cuts of meat, it’s not advisable for vegetables, which may end up a bit dry and crunchy.
Additionally, all of this high heat can destroy the enzymes and nutrients in veggies.
Believe it or not, some studies conclude that microwaving your food could be the best way to cook food while preserving their nutrients – especially vegetables.
The reason for this may be because the microwave cooks food very quickly and minimizes the amount of vitamin and mineral damage.
There is a caveat, however. While it may be safe to cook food in the microwave, you have to be careful about what you cook your food in.
Metals of any kind are unsafe in the microwave. Even take-out containers may contain metal in them, which is a fire hazard when placed in the microwave.
You may be tempted to reuse old yogurt or margarine containers, but these plastic materials are not meant to be used again – and especially not in the microwave. They may melt and release toxic chemicals, which you definitely don’t want in your food.
The same goes for styrofoam. It, too, is made from plastic, and these can break down under high temperatures and leach into your food.
Finally, unless a plastic container explicitly says it’s microwave-safe, don’t put it in the microwave. Plastics don’t do well under heat. Not only can they melt, but they can leave toxic chemicals in your food.
Poaching is similar to boiling, but with a slight twist. Here, you heat a small amount of water just below the boiling point and slowly cook the food item.
Unfortunately, this prolonged cooking time may rob the food of some of its nutrients. But many agree that despite this downfall, it’s an ideal way to cook delicate foods like fish, eggs and some fruit.
You don’t have to boycott your favorite cooking method. But consider switching things up in the kitchen to ensure you get more of the vitamins and minerals in the foods you eat.