Uh Oh, You Might Be Cooking Your Veggies All Wrong

Ask any nutritionist whether you should eat more vegetables and the answer will be yes. But then you have to decide how to cook those veggies. You probably know that deep-frying isn’t encouraged (as delicious as French fries are, they usually aren’t thought of as a health food), but what is? It turns out that different ways of cooking vegetables can affect the nutrient value. Here’s a guide:

  • Cooked is better. Raw veggies are delicious and the easiest to eat, but you might be missing out on some nutrients if you don’t cook them. It may sound like the opposite would be true, but the act of cooking softens the tough fibers of the vegetables, releasing more nutrients for your body to absorb. In some cases, cooking also boosts the antioxidant levels.
  • Embrace the microwave. Spanish researchers took a look at different methods of cooking vegetables and how it affected antioxidant levels, and the microwave was one of the best for every vegetable but cauliflower.
  • Banish boiling. Cooking methods that involve water, like boiling, brought down antioxidant levels the most in the Spanish study. That’s because the nutrients seep out of the vegetables and into the water, which is then thrown away. If you boil the vegetables in a soup, that’s fine because you will be consuming the cooking liquid.
  • Follow the red vegetable rule. If you’re eating a red veggie, cook it. Lycopene is an antioxidant found in red foods like tomatoes and red bell peppers that can help reduce your risk for certain cancers and heart attacks. And levels of lycopene are boosted through cooking.
  • Broccoli is the exception. There are a few vegetables that actually lose nutrients through cooking, and the major one is broccoli. When you chew raw broccoli, you release an enzyme that helps your liver function better and remove more toxins from your system. Eating cooked broccoli only gives you about a third of those enzymes.

Find out more about growing, buying and juicing vegetables by checking out these blogs:

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Photo credit: Sharunas Jurevic

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