Cooking To Retain Nutritional Value
During cooking, food undergoes chemical changes. The effects of this process are not always negative but valuable nutrients can be lost. This doesn’t mean you should never roast your vegetables, or that you need to eat only raw foods to acquire your recommended daily intake of vitamins and minerals. It’s important to use a variety of different cooking methods to keep your meals interesting and get you excited about your veggies! After all, only a very small percentage of us manage to eat the recommend 5-6 serves per day.
Does cooking affect all nutrients in the same way?
No, some vitamins and minerals are better retained than others. Fat-soluble vitamins, A, D, E and K for example are more stable than water-soluble vitamins like C, and therefore less likely to deteriorate when heated. And the antioxidants in some vegetables, those rich in carotenoids, are actually better absorbed by the body when lightly cooked. Tomatoes, broccoli and dark leafy green vegetables are a few examples of these.
So when it comes to vegetable consumption, our primary goal should always be to reach 5-6 serves or approximately 450g (raw) per day. We should experiment with different methods of cooking but for optimal nutritional value, limit cooking time, temperature and contact with water. A few simple tips are to;
- Steam or blanch vegetables and if boiling, use a small amount of water
- Keep vegetable pieces big and chunky to limit oxidative losses AND
- Don’t over cook your veggies, keep them bright and crunchy
Follow the tips above to ensure you are retaining optimal nutritional value when preparing your meals.
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