You often hear the need to eat several portions of vegetables a day, which should be spread over different meals. As such, doctors and fitness instructors often recommend to include 5 to 7 daily servings of vegetables. But what will be the healthiest way to cook them while keeping their nutrients? Eating vegetables may not bring much benefit if the cooking process destroys their antioxidants, minerals, and vitamins.
Vegetable nutrients may be sensitive to heat or contact with boiling water. In either way, there is a nutrient loss. What you need to learn now is how to mitigate this nutrients loss. So, if you are wondering what the healthiest ways to cook vegetables are, this article will tell you all.
Importance to save veggies’ nutrients
- Veggies are rich in potassium
- Rich in minerals (iron, zinc, potassium, phosphorus, calcium, magnesium, copper)
- They lack fat and have very few calories. This helps to maintain an ideal weight
- Rich in vitamins
- Contains fibre that helps regulate intestinal transit
- Rich in antioxidants that help delay the signs of ageing
Best ways to cook vegetables
Needless to say, each vegetable has its own bunch of vitamins and requires different types of cooking. When it comes to cooking veggies, there are several options available. One of them is not to cook them at all. This option is the most efficient in terms of nutrient content since any form of heat will alter the number of vitamins and minerals. However, it is advisable not to abuse raw vegetables, since cooking will favour your metabolism and also help in the digestive process.
1. Steam cooking
This is undoubtedly the best, easiest, and healthiest way to cook vegetables. Food is steamed without being in contact with boiling water. In this way, veggies retain almost all their nutrient properties, and you will get a more consistent texture and a fresher flavour. When they are steamed, vegetables maintain an intense green and irresistible appearance. This process also helps the vegetable to get tastier without getting soft.
2. Water cooking
If you decide to go for this option, you must bear in mind that it is best to do it with a small amount of liquid. The liquid should also be consumed since part of the vegetable nutrients remain in the water. Or, you can use the water to make a soup or mix all the ingredients and prepare a rich puree.
Vegetable boiling may also be advisable for people with some health problems such as
kidney diseases where potassium intake needs to be limited. Potassium from food cooked in the water stays in the liquid that is not consumed, reducing the burden on the kidneys.
Oxalic acid in some vegetables may increase the risk of kidney stones.
Here is a way I like personally, it allows me to make prep meals this way in both a healthy and efficient way:
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3. Fried or Baked Vegetables
This process is what makes vegetables tastier but also less healthy, although in some specific cases there is no significant loss of nutrients. It is usually performed using a skillet or wok with a little oil or even grilled over a hot plate. The problem is that this process turns some of the food components into acrylamide, known to be a potential carcinogen. The more roasted, golden, or burnt the food is, the higher the presence of acrylamide.
To reduce the presence of acrylamide, cooking should be done as soon as possible and at low temperatures. Cutting vegetables into small pieces before placing them in the wok or skillet can help minimize the cooking time.
Which way is the most effective way?
Raw vegetables contain more nutrients, but the digestive effort you must make is greater to metabolize them. What is then the most effective way? Well, steam is the way to go as the vegetable still maintain a greater number of vitamins and minerals. When vegetables are lightly steamed, it will provide you with a bunch of benefits and a true culinary pleasure.
A healthy vegetable will always be the one that has been treated organically, i.e. without pesticides or chemical treatments. When preparing to cook, do not remove the outermost leaves of the vegetable, since the outermost is the richest in vitamins and minerals. Wash them well and enjoy the nutrients that you are going to incorporate into your meals.
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