The Healthiest Ways to Cook Veggies and Boost Nutrition

Author: Sandee LaMotte
Published: May 5, 2016

Vegetables are good for the body. Yet experts say you can make them even healthier if you prepare them through ways that maximize their benefits.

A few says veggies are best when you eat them raw. Studies, however, show that cooking breaks down the tough outer layers and cell structures of many veggies, making it easier for the body to absorb their nutrients.

Elaine Magee is the author of “Food Synergy: Unleash Hundreds of Powerful Healing Food Combinations to Fight Disease and Live Well and a registered dietitian.” She says, “compared to raw, studies found that eating cooked spinach and carrots led to higher blood levels of the antioxidant beta-carotene, which then converts to Vitamin A.” She added that cooking veggies increases their mineral content such as calcium, magnesium, and iron.

Keeping cooking time, temperature, and liquid to a minimum is perfect for veggies. This makes steaming one of the best ways to cook most of them including broccoli, a top anti-cancer foods.

Better yet, steam than boil them because the latter causes water-soluble vitamins in veggies, such as C, B1, and folate, to leach into the water. Thus, unless you are eating them with the water, you pour these vitamins down the sink, said Magee. She says you must wait to wash them before cooking to preserve their nutrients because washing them before storing may promote bacterial growth and hasten their spoilage.

Researchers resolved that water is not a cook’s best friend when preparing veggies except for carrots. One study showed that boiling and steaming them increase the levels of beta-carotene. You must cook them whole, however, because cutting lessens their nutrients by 25 percent.

Sautéed veggies in healthy cooking oil such as extra virgin olive oil are better than deep fried. This not only enriches their flavor but makes it  easier for the body to absorb phytonutrients.

Researchers found as well that griddling is great for green beans, asparagus, broccoli, celery, onions, and Swiss chard. With olive oil, they can form strong flavors and be healthy. For tomatoes, studies show that cutting and heating opens their cell walls letting greater access to the health gains of lycopene.

When in doubt, Magee suggests using a microwave, except for cauliflower, because it uses little to no water and can heat the veggies from its inner part. This preserves nutrients such as Vitamin C that breaks down when heated.

This article is so informative and helpful for moms who wish to feed their family with nutritious foods. They can prepare food better and make best use of the nutrition they can give.

Phytonutrient – a bioactive plant-derived compound (as resveratrol) associated with positive health effects

Fat-soluble vitamins – soluble in fat and can be stored in liver and fat tissue until needed

Griddling – to cook, it uses a pan with distinctive raised edges and is normally done on the stove or in the oven

Carotenoids – any of a group of red and yellow pigments, chemically similar to carotene, contained in animal fat and some plants




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