All the foods that we consume have a specific set of nutrients that are essential for our well-being. However, it’s simply not enough to know which nutrients can be found in which foods, it’s also important to know which cooking methods to use so you could keep most of its nutrients.
As a rule of thumb, the least amount of time, temperature, and water is used during cooking, the better. This is why steaming is one of the best ways to cook almost every known vegetable. Some vegetables such as broccoli, are especially sensitive to being processed, so steaming is the only way to cook them without them losing their nutrients.
Steaming is a much better cooking method than boiling for a very simple reason. Submerging vegetables in water and boiling them lets the water-soluble vitamins such as vitamin C, and vitamin B out of the vegetable and into the water. If you are not planning on using that water for making a stew or a soup, all of the benefits of these vitamins will go to waste. The only vegetable that has an increased level of nutrients after boiling is the carrots.
As we have mentioned before, water is the main culprit in the loss of nutrients during the cooking process, this is why dry cooking methods such as grilling and roasting retain most of the nutrients. Some foods that require heat processing to be safe to eat, like many types of meat, are usually grilled. Vegetables are also found on many grills in almost every household. Grilled vegetables retain almost the same level of nutrients as the steamed vegetables do.
Many people however think that grilled vegetables aren’t as healthy because they are being thermally processed over an open flame. While it’s true that they do lose some of the nutrients, this loss is much smaller than the loss that would be caused by boiling for example. Grilling is very beneficial generally speaking because the intake of fats and carbs is decreased because these ingredients aren’t necessary for this cooking method.
Air fryers are appliances about the size of a coffee maker that uses heated air to cook food. The air is pushed up by a fan and can reach temperatures as high as 400 F around the food. This air circulation ensures that the food is cooked evenly, making a crispy coating and a tender inside. Air fryers can cook a lot of different foods, ranging from meats and vegetables to pizza and doughnuts.
Some models have additional cooking options that depend on the manufacturer so if you have something specific in mind visit here to get a better insight. Many studies have shown that air frying is much healthier than frying in oil. The simple reason behind this is that it uses hot air currents to process the food, as opposed to gallons of oil.
Use the Oven
Roasting has become increasingly popular nowadays ever since the rise of online cooking videos with “one pan” recipes which have made cooking more attractive to many people because it showed them that it doesn’t have to take hours to prepare a delicious meal. The general opinion, the same as with grilling is that the high temperatures used in this cooking method will destroy most of the nutrients.
However, many foods show an increase in their nutritive value after they have been thermally processed. The aforementioned carrot has higher levels of carotene by up to a quarter after roasting. This characteristic is common among the vegetables that have carotenoids in them like beta-carotene found in carrots and spinach, and lycopene which is found in tomatoes and red peppers.
Don’t Discard the Cooking Water
We have mentioned it many times before and we will mention it again – water draws out a lot of the nutrients from the food. This process usually goes unnoticed because these nutrients don’t have a specific color so it’s impossible to see them going out of the food. However, this doesn’t mean that you should avoid cooking methods that use a lot of water, like boiling.
There are plenty of delicious solutions to this “problem”. If you were planning on just using the boiled vegetables, save the water they were cooked in because congratulations, you’ve made a vegetable broth. This liquid not only has the nutrients that you almost got rid of, but it has also picked up some of the flavors, making it a great base for a soup or a stew.
Stir-frying helps to retain a lot of the nutrients in foods, especially in vegetables. Since stir-frying requires oil to transfer the heat to the food, many might think that it’s unhealthy at the start. Contrary to this popular belief, this can be avoided by simply using healthy oils for cooking such as avocado and olive oil. Avocado oil has a higher smoking point therefore it’s better suited for stir-frying at higher temperatures.
Stir-frying has many benefits regarding the nutrients in specific foods. It generally requires a short amount of heat exposure which allows meats and vegetables to retain more of their nutrients. Have in mind that vitamin C can easily be broken down by higher temperatures, so use low heat if you’re cooking with foods rich in it.
Things to Avoid
Some of the things that will certainly cause your food to lose most of its nutrients need to be avoided at all costs, as they can produce additional harmful substances. Charing any kind of meat can even produce carcinogenic compounds. Another aspect to consider is that even though some nutrients get lost, it’s far more beneficial to cook the food instead of eating it raw. Our bodies absorb most of the nutrients much easier if the food has been processed. Just be careful to use the best cooking method for a specific food to get the most out of it.
Have these tips and cooking ways in mind the next time you’re preparing a meal. They will ensure you get the most nutrients out of your food which will keep you healthy in the long run.