Top Tips on Cooking to Keep Nutrients Intact

Cooking is an art that gets better as you practice and try recipes in new ways. You do not have to attend a cookery course to make the most of your meals.  Eating nutritious food improves your health, wellness and boosts your energy levels.

Interestingly, how you prepare your meals can affect the availability of the nutritional value of the food items. Processed foods must undergo nutritional analysis testing to ensure consumers get a deal for their money. Additionally, when you prepare food at home or in an eating joint, retain all the nutrients despite the cooking method you use.

How the nutritional value of food changes during cooking

Fruits are often eaten raw. However, most food items need to be cooked to become palatable. Cooking makes food tender and allows easy absorption in the body.  While some other foods like eggs can be eaten raw (some folks do) its nutritional value is best when cooked,

On the other hand, some nutritional value is destroyed with heat exposure. For instance, Riboflavin, niacin, and vitamin C, and B are water-soluble nutrients. Therefore, it is advisable to clean all vegetables first before cutting them. Washing after reducing their size dissolves most of the nutrients in the water.

There are also fat-soluble vitamins such as E, K and A.  Cooking reduces sodium, calcium, and potassium quickly.

Types of Cooking Methods

  • Microwaving

A microwave cooks food from inside out.  Therefore, microwaved food is cooked from the core because the radio waves emitted work on the molecules to generate heat. The heat breaks down the food content and renders it ready in minutes.

However, microwaving makes food dry out. You can maintain the moisture content by sprinkling some water on the food item you are cooking. Alternatively, place a damp food towel over the cooking dish.

Microwaving is the most preferred method if you need to cut the oils in your food. Additionally, you can microwave almost all kinds of foods, including vegetables, eggs, meat and rice. And while at it, remember to use micro-wave safe utensils and maintain high hygiene standards.

  • Boiling

Boiling is the laziest cooking method because all you need is to place the food item in the pot, add adequate water and cook. However, if you put a lot of water, you wash away the nutrients in the food item. Alternatively, you can use the remaining soup like broth for other dishes.

Some food items are best boiled, while others waste minerals if boiled. Vegetables lose taste, and all vitamins get dissolved in the water. Therefore, cook vegetables in little water to retain the nutritional content. Some nutrients, such as lycopene in tomatoes, are more readily available when cooked than when raw.

  • Steaming

Steaming is an excellent cooking method that retains all the natural goodness in food. You can steam almost all types of food, including meat, fish, and vegetables. Steaming is a slow cooking method that allows food items to cook in their own juice. Steaming also does not need to add fat and oils to moisten the food.

Add a little salt and your preferred seasoning before placing food on the steamer. Seasoning may be the most critical additive to your food because steamed dishes don’t always taste great.

  • Poaching

Poaching is a slow cooking method. It is almost similar to boiling because you cook in little water below the boiling point. While at it, you need time and keep checking to avoid overcooking.

  • Grilling

If you are a food enthusiast, grilling may be the best way to retain all nutrients and flavor.

It also adds a smoky flavor to your dishes, therefore, making your food taste earthy. Grilling requires little or no added fats and maintains vegetables and meaty dishes moist. 

On the downside, it is claimed that eating charred food increase the risk of some types of cancer. 

 Grilling at a very high temperature can potentially produce a chemical reaction that creates toxins. When fat and protein in meat react under extreme temperatures, an imbalance of antioxidants occurs. An imbalance in antioxidants increases the risk of some diseases such as diabetes and cardiovascular illnesses.

Therefore, you can use it sparingly and vary the cooking methods for your meals. Additionally, stick to lean meat and light red-colored beef.

  • Roasting and baking

 Roasting and baking are dry cooking methods. Some foods such as meat can be roasted while baking applies to bread, cakes and similar dishes. Roasting and baking retain most nutrients in foods. However, it helps to learn how to use roasting and baking to get most of your food for some dishes.

  • Frying

Most people prefer frying most of their foods because of the additional taste of onions and oil. Frying is typically cooking in little oil and at a high temperature. It also ensures the food is cooked evenly.

 It is advisable not to fry oily meat. Alternatively, you can grill fatty foods to allow the fat to drip. On the other hand, fatty fish are high in omega-3 but are easily destroyed by high temperatures. Therefore, vary your cooking methods to get the most nutrients in your dishes.

  • Raw food

Raw food is crunchy and naturally tasteful.  Eating a raw food diet involves consuming unprocessed, uncooked or unadulterated food.  Raw food is a favorite cooking method for a vegan diet because it eliminates animal products.

Typically, you can vary different cooking methods in various dishes for a meal. For instance, you can boil meat, bake potatoes and provide a vegetable salad. Some food items can be eaten raw, while others give the most nutritional value when cooked. As earlier said, lycopene in tomatoes and carotenoids in carrots and pumpkin is best cooked.

Wrapping it up

Vary the cooking methods to retain the nutritional value. However, no one method is the best of them all. Always cook for a short period, to avoid overcooking. Also, use minimal water and cook under low heat for best results.

 

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