If you eat a lot of vegetables kudos to you. You're getting tons of good vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, and a full spectrum of antioxidants.
But did you know you can max out the nutrients from your veggies if you cook them the right way?! Some cooking methods undermine all the reasons you're eating veggies in the first place.
Interested? Stay with me as I break this down easy and neat.
What's the best way to cook your veggies?
This involves cooking vegetables in the hot vapors released by boiling water. The vegetables don't come in direct contact with water with this method. Steaming retains B vitamins, vitamin C as well as minerals like calcium.
For instance, broccoli retains most of its nutrition in the steaming process. While boiling or microwaving kills nutrients and reduces its cancer-fighting properties.
The best way to cook broccoli is to steam for 3 -4 minutes till it turns bright green color.Tweet
Boiling involves cooking the vegetables in water. In this method, a lot of the nutrients leach into the water. A percentage of water-soluble vitamins like vitamin C, thiamine, riboflavin, vitamins B-6 and B-12, niacin and folate are lost in the water.
The percentage varies depending on the veggie, amount of water used, cook time and temperature.
For instance, most leafy greens lose 40% of their Vitamin C and 35% of their folate when boiled in water but not enough water to cover them. If you add enough water to cover them you stand to lose another 5%.
A general rule of thumb is to expect to lose 30-40% of water-soluble vitamins when you boil your veggies and the more water you use and the longer you boil them, the more vitamins you lose.
Unless you are going to use this water in stews or soups, this isn't an ideal way to cook veggies.
This involves cooking vegetables in a small amount of fat over high heat. Sauteing allows the veggies to brown or sear and keeps the moisture and texture intact.
Some veggies like eggplant are great to cook in a healthy oil because it boosts the absorption of antioxidants. Eggplant is high in phenols and carotene and sauteing keeps these nutrients. This method also keeps fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K intact.
A Spanish study found that baking retained the antioxidants in a lot of vegetables.
Asparagus, artichokes, broccoli, celery, green beans, spinach and eggplant kept their antioxidants. Yet, the study found that green peppers lost their antioxidant capacity.
This is when you cook vegetables in a pan with a flat or raised edge surface. It's a bit different that sauteeing since the veggies aren't usually immersed as deeply in the cooking oil.
The same study mentioned above found that griddling veggies with a bit of oil is a good way to preserve nutrition. Green beans, asparagus, broccoli, celery, swiss chard, onions kept their nutrition when griddled.
So, what is the absolute best method to cook vegetables?
While methods like steaming, are much better than boiling, the best way to cook really depends on the veggie.
A fool-proof way to keep most of the nutrients is to steam or saute your veggies.
6 Cooking Tips to Get the Most out of Your Veggies
1. Steam cook your vegetables to preserve the most nutrition.
2. Keep the temperature, the quantity of water used and cooking time to the least when you opt to boil.
3. If boiling your vegetables, never discard the water. Add it to soups or broth.
4. Avoid frying vegetables, it adds too many empty calories.
5. If you want to boost the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins like A, D, E and K, cook them in good fat like coconut oil or ghee.
6. Don't throw away the scraps. You'll be surprised to know what you're probably tossing out is actually the healthiest part of your veg.
All this talk about cooking veggies may make you forget that veggies are an ideal grab and go food. They're perfectly delicious and nutritious raw. 🙂
Yours in health and happiness,
P.S. Share this with your veggie loving friends and I welcome your feedback in the comments below. How do you usually cook your veggies?