Nutritional composition of foods isn’t always as good as their taste and look. And even though we all have preferred methods of cooking food, there are some methods that produce healthier outcomes. Depending on the food, cooking methods can be used interchangeably, according to food experts. Here we talk about pros and cons of the most popular cooking methods.
Steaming is the complete opposite of stir-frying. Steaming is the healthiest way to cook veggies. It breaks cell walls of foods making the nutrients easier to digest. It can also improve antioxidant properties of many veggies such as spinach, pepper, broccoli and green beans.
Steaming is different from simmering and boiling because you don’t need to put vegetables in water, which usually leads to nutrient loss. Just place veggies in a basket in a bigger pot so that they don’t touch water. The cooking time is around 20 minutes. Don’t overcook or you can burn your pan. You can even make vegetarian noodles by steaming the veggies and adding tofu.
Roasting is another easy cooking method. You just need to toss all ingredients with oil, season and put in the oven. With roasting, you create a caramelized layer and add more flavor to your dish.
Roasted veggies is a healthier version of grilled veggies. And you avoid the risks of carcinogens that sometimes form during grilling.
Boiling has gotten a bad reputation during the recent years, because you need to cook everything in boiling water and then discard the liquid. Nutrients are leached into the liquid which can sometimes lower the value of foods.
If you boil something, use the liquid in the recipe to keep the nutrients. For example, you can use it as stock for your soup. Boiling veggies is best for people who want to lower their potassium intake.
Boiling is recommended for people who are at risk of developing kidney stones. Most vegetables contain oxalic acid responsible for the stones. Boiling helps lower the acid. Of course, you should always consult your doctor before making a decision.
Vegetables lose nutrients not only during cooking. Fresh vegetables lose their value while they’re transported to a distribution centre, displayed in a store or stored in a crisper. When possible, choose fresh farmer’s vegetables to reduce time from harvest to your fridge.
When you can’t find fresh vegetables, frozen can be a good alternative. Their nutrient content match the one of fresh vegetables because they’re frozen at peak ripeness. Veggies that are shipped to the produce section are picked before their peak ripeness, so they don’t have enough time to fully develop their potential.
Many people believe raw is better than cooked, but it’s not always the case. Cooked vegetables have weaker cell walls and our bodies digest them better. They also provide more antioxidants such as lycopene, beta-carotene and lutein.
Cooked vegetables provide more minerals as well. Beet greens and spinach are high in calcium which is released during cooking. Cooked veggies deliver more magnesium and iron than their raw counterparts.
Of course, some vegetables are better for you raw than cooked. Cabbage, bok choy, cauliflower and other cruciferous veggies contain enzymes that get destroyed during cooking. Basically, no cooking method can preserve all nutrients. So, don’t limit yourself to only one technique or only one salad. Enjoy your foods grilled, roasted, boiled, raw or steamed!