August 27, 2014
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Nutrition and Fitness

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Cooking: Good Health in the Kitchen

Cooking vegetables without losing nutrients

Cooking vegetables without losing nutrients

Generally, the more we expose foods to heat and water, the more nutrients will be lost, especially water-soluble vitamins like vitamins B and C. However, not all foods react the same way to different cooking methods.

Nutrient-maximizing tips:

Chop vegetables into larger chunks. When finely chopped, veggies will have more surfaces exposed to the air, which can zap vitamins and minerals.

Put away the peeler. When apples and cucumbers are peeled, their antioxidant content decreases by 33% to 66%.

Take a break after chopping veggies. After chopping collard greens, Brussels sprouts, or cauliflower, wait about 10 minutes before you cook or eat them. Some studies show that time enhances activation of certain nutrients in the vegetables.

Let the stinky stuff breathe. Garlic, onions, and leeks can be quickly drained of many of their nutritional benefits when cooked. To maximize nutrient availability, slice up garlic, onions, and leeks and let them stand for about 10 minutes before further handling or cooking them, allowing time for some nutrients to be released.

Let off some steam. Most veggies stand up well when given a good steaming. This quick-cook method increases carrots' antioxidant potential by nearly 300%, while cabbage gets a more than 400% boost!

And be quick about that steam! The super nutritional powers of some vegetables can be short-lived when cooked. That's why short cook times are crucial when preparing mega-vitamin-packed vegetables like broccoli, Swiss chard, green beans, kale, Brussels sprouts, and cauliflower.

Griddle your vegetables. Tossed on a griddle (a flat metal pan) with no cooking oil, vegetables may hold onto more of their antioxidants.

Zap your veggies in the microwave. Despite the microwave's bad reputation, "nuking" vegetables can maintain or even boost the antioxidant content of several types of vegetables, including carrots and spinach.

Give peas a chance. Green peas, along with cauliflower and zucchini can be drained of most of their nutrient potential when boiled. Steaming would be a better option if you want to benefit from the vitamin C, fibre, and folate bursting from these bountiful vegetables.

Let vegetables show their true colours. Cooked just right, brightly-hued vegetables like bell peppers, spinach, or tomatoes will become even more deeply and vividly coloured. Let them cook too long, though, and you'll notice once vibrant vegetables turn pale and colourless. Less colour usually means less nutritional potential.

Should you put a freeze on frozen? If properly blanched (boiled or steamed) before freezing, fruits and vegetables last about 8 to 12 months. Many salad staples don't hold up well there, though. Once thawed, cabbage, lettuce, cucumbers, celery, radishes, endives, and watercress will be drained of colour - a clue that they've also been drained of some nutrients.

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