Do you cook? If you do, are you practising techniques that could be costing you essential nutrients, tricking you into overeating—or even making you sick.
BOILING YOUR VEGGIES
A 2015 review published in the International Journal of Gastronomy and Food Science showed that boiling vegetables resulted in a high loss of vitamin C and folate. One study found that broccoli, for example, lost about 33 per cent of its vitamin C. Vitamin C and many of the B vitamins are the most unstable nutrients when it comes to cooking. Because they’re water-soluble, they leach out of vegetables into the cooking water. If you boil your vegetables or microwave using too much water, you’ll end up with less thiamine, folate, vitamin B6, vitamin B12 and a lot less vitamin C.
Water is the enemy when it comes to nutrient losses during cooking. That’s why steaming is one of the best methods to preserve easily damaged nutrients, such as vitamin C and many B vitamins. Since vegetables don’t come in contact with cooking water during steaming, more vitamins are retained.
Dry cooking methods such as grilling, roasting and stir-frying also retain a greater amount of nutrients than boiling. If you prefer to boil your vegetables, save the nutrient-rich cooking water to add to soups and sauces.
RINSING RAW CHICKEN
While your favourite old cookbooks likely tell you to rinse a chicken before roasting, this outdated advice is a safety hazard. Running poultry under the tap may remove some of the bacteria (including salmonella and campylobacter, which can cause diarrhea, vomiting and fever), but it’s also likely to transfer it around your kitchen—as far as nearly one metre from the sink, according to research from Drexel University in Philadelphia. “Droplets can spread from your hands to countertops and even onto the floor, which can be a concern, especially if you have small children,” says Saxena. To stay safe, skip the rinse and wash your hands thoroughly after you’re finished prepping your bird.
REMOVING SKINS FROM FRUITS AND VEGETABLES
Peeling your produce rids your food of an important layer of nutrients. Researchers at the University of Maine estimate that the skins of potatoes, for example, contain 10 to 12 times more antioxidants than the flesh. Peeling fruits and vegetables also strips away a dose of insoluble fibre, which is crucial for digestion and bowel function.
Concern about herbicide or pesticide residue isn’t a good enough reason to forego the peelings. Washing your fresh produce will remove some pesticide residues from the surface, she says. You can also opt for organic varieties of heavily sprayed produce, such as peaches.
A smoothie is a smart way to sneak in some greens (and down your breakfast in a hurry), but liquid meals tend to be unbalanced. They’re often lacking in protein, healthy fat and complex carbohydrates. These components work together to keep us feeling full and satisfied.
On the flip side, when you eat solid food, your body takes less time to breakdown the food. This also takes extra time to consume fats and oils present in the food. When you drink smoothies, your body can convert the food immediately and extract the essential nutrients.
If you’re topping your bowl with dried cranberries, candied pecans and a sweet goat cheese, you’ve easily added 30 grams of sugar to your so-called healthy lunch. Chopped, raw nuts and seeds are better options to beef up the flavour profile of your greens. Oil-based dressings also tend to be more nutritious than their creamy counterparts.
Contrary to popular belief, microwaving doesn’t kill nutrients in vegetables. In fact, it may outrank steaming when it comes to retaining antioxidants.
A 2009 report in the Journal of Food Science found that compared with boiling, pressure cooking and baking, microwave cooking helped maintain the highest levels of antioxidants in beans, beets, artichoke, asparagus, garlic, onion and spinach. Microwave cooking increased antioxidant activity in eggplant, corn, peppers and Swiss chard. On the other hand, boiling and pressure cooking led to the greatest antioxidant losses.
Microwave ovens use less heat than many other cooking methods and involve shorter cooking times. If you use a minimal amount of water and don’t overcook your vegetables, microwave cooking is a nutritional win. (A 2003 study concluded that microwaving destroyed most of the antioxidants in broccoli – but the researchers had added far too much water.)
Incorporating right foods and using right ways of cooking or preparing meals will help and allow the body to nourish well wherein the body is healthier, more energetic and less likely to develop diseases that are lifestyle related. Therefore eat right and have fun now and then.
Check out my related post: How to make a perfect pizza?