How To Cook Vegetables Properly

Vegetables may be too bland to the taste of some people but they are important to be included in our diet since they contain lots of nutrients that are essential to the body.  Vegetables are still considered as the best source of nutrients than supplements in the market. However, you should take note of the proper cooking method for a specific vegetable to maximize its nutrients. Here are the things you need to know about cooking vegetables properly:

Does cooking vegetables make less healthy?

Studies have shown that the process of cooking breaks down the tough outer layers and cellular structure of many vegetables which makes it easier for your body to absorb the nutrients. In addition, cooking can help increase the amount of minerals such as calcium, magnesium, and iron available to the body.

Cooking can release nutrients and boost antioxidant capabilities. Moreover, fat-soluble nutrients  like vitamin A, E, and K are more stable when cooked. Cooking breaks down the cell walls of the vegetables, releasing the nutrients. Cooking releases more antioxidants, like lycopene, beta-carotene, and lutein, than eaten raw. 

What is the healthiest way to cook vegetables?

According to the experts, steaming can help retain glucosinolates that helps fight cancer found in broccoli. It also retained carotenoids in zucchini and significantly increased carotenoid in carrots and broccoli. Moreover, steaming protect polyphenols, a group of antioxidants, in the vegetables compared to boiling and frying. In general, steaming is the healthiest way to cook vegetables to maximize the nutritional value.

Is steaming the healthiest way to cook vegetables?

Steaming can be the healthiest way to cook vegetables depending on the vegetable. Some vegetables are better roasted, some are better boiled, while some are better sautéed. However, it can be quite time-consuming to look for the best cooking method for a vegetable so experts suggest to steam or microwave your vegetable with little water when in doubt and drizzle your vegetables with olive oil.  According to a study, steaming is the worst cooking method for preserving antioxidants.

Microwaving is much like steaming, which is why it’s one of the healthiest way to cook vegetables because of its short cooking time which leads to minimal nutrient loss. 

Are boiled vegetables healthy?

Boiling is usually considered as a poor method of healthy cooking since nutrients are absorbed from the food into the cooking water. However, studies have shown that boiling vegetables can stil produce similar results to preserving carotenoids. In addition is retains vitamin C better than frying but not as well as steaming and sautéing .

Unless you’re consuming the water along with your vegetables, like soups and stews, most vitamins are drained down the sink. A study in 2009 found that boiling cauliflower, zucchini, and peas are susceptible to a loss of nutrients when boiled. These vegetables lose 50% of their antioxidants through boiling.

Are baked vegetables healthy?

Baked vegetables are healthier than boiled vegetables since baking do not use much water as boiling which keeps most nutrients intact. Baking uses dry heat to soften the vegetables and doesn’t require any added butter or oil, unless you wish to drizzle olive oil for more flavor. Baking uses little water which keeps the vegetables healthy.

Is roasting vegetables healthier than steaming?

Roasting vegetables can decrease vitamins in the vegetables (but not all nutrients are lost) because they are exposed in high heat for long periods of time. People roast vegetables to bring out the best flavors in vegetables to make them tastier without adding unhealthy fat and sodium.

It actually depends on the type of vegetable you have to cook. Some vegetables releases more nutrients when roasted and some vegetables retain their nutrients when steamed.

According to a Spanish study published in 2009, artichokes, asparagus, broccoli, celery, eggplant, green beans, onions, and spinach kept their antioxidants after baking. However, avoid baking green peppers since the lose their antioxidant capacity when baked. Roasting tomatoes can be a good idea since it increases lycopene found in tomatoes that reduces the risk of Alzheimer’s and cancer. 

How do you cook vegetables to make them taste good?

Vegetables can be quite bland especially when steamed. Some people cannot stomach the taste of vegetables that they often avoid eating them. However, vegetables provide a lot of nutrients needed in the body. But sometimes eating vegetables can be a chore to some people. Sure, there are a number of ways to make veggies taste good even if you are not a veggie-lover.

Sautéing, roasting, and  baking can make vegetables taste good. Adding olive oil maximizes the flavor of the vegetables. It can also increase the absorption of phytonutrients like phenols and carotenes. Most vitamins and nutrients in vegetables are fat-soluble which means the body absorbs them better in the presence of fat. Olive is a healthy oil to use for sautéing, roasting, and baking because it is loaded with antioxidants and phytonutrients of the cooking oils. 

Grilling with a drizzle of olive oil can also release a more complex flavor in vegetables. Grilling can be quite inconvenient but still worth the effort. Sautéing vegetables can be more interesting with wine or butter. Some recommend to sauté veggies in chicken stock if you want lower calorie but still want a flavorful treat.  Roasting vegetables with herbs and oil creates a unique flavor. Cooking them in the oven helps them caramelize a bit that brings out the best flavors of the vegetables. 

How can you minimize nutrient loss when cooking vegetables?

Maximize the nutritional value of the vegetables by matching it to the proper cooking method of the vegetable. Some vegetables are better boiled or steamed, some are better roasted and sautéed. Experts suggest to cut vegetables like carrots in large pieces to maximize nutrients. Cutting has been found to reduce nutrients by 25 percent. Also, cook your vegetables with as little water as possible to prevent significant nutrient loss.

How do you cook vegetables without losing nutrients?

Vegetables are loaded with nutrients needed in our body. However, cooking can affect the amount of nutrients in the vegetables. In one way or another, it is inevitable to lose nutrients in vegetables but you can minimize it somehow. Some cooking methods can be a bad idea since it absorbs the nutrients in the vegetables. Fortunately, there are methods you can do to retain the nutritional value in the vegetables. One method is limiting the water. Water absorbs the nutrients in the vegetables when boiled.  Cook vegetables with little water as possible for a minimal amount of time. Boiling is a good idea if you wish to drink the water, too. Most nutrients of the vegetables are found in the water. 

Moreover, use olive oil if you wish to add more flavor in your vegetables. Unhealthy fats can counteract the nutrients that you consume from the vegetables. In addition, vegetables are best eaten with healthy fats since most nutrients found in vegetables, such as vitamin D, vitamin K, and beta-carotene, are fat-soluble. Without fats, these nutrients won’t be distributed in our bloodstream.  Adding citrus can also help in maximizing nutrients. Vitamin C helps in changing iron found in green vegetables to a form that can be easily absorbed by the body.

In addition, wash your vegetables before cutting. Nutrients can escape when they come in contact with water since cutting can break the cell walls of the vegetables. Exposure to light and air can destroy nutrients so cook them as soon as after cutting to keep the vitamins and minerals intact in their cells. Cut the vegetables in large, uniform pieces to keep the nutrients. Vitamin C and B vitamins are the most unstable nutrients since they are water-soluble. They leach out from vegetables into the water. Polyphenols are also susceptible to loss during cooking. 

What is the best way to cook green vegetables?

Green vegetables are best cooked since they contain oxalic acid which prevents the absorptionof healthy calcium and iron in the body. Cooking breaks down oxalic acid so your body can easily absorb the nutrients. The best way to cook green vegetables is with high cooking temperature and short cooking time. Blanching, sautéing, and roasting are the best cooking methods for green vegetables. The longer vegetables are exposed to heat, the more nutrients are lost which leads to discoloration. The vegetables also turn soggy when exposed to heat for a long time. 

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Blanching is much like boiling but you have to pull out the vegetables until they are tender-crisp. The trick here is to boil a large amount of water to ensure that the temperature won’t drop significantly once you put the vegetables in the pot. Once they’re cooked, drain the vegetables and put them in a container of ice water to stop the cooking process completely. This is to maintain the vibrant color and ideal texture of the vegetable.

Green vegetables tastes best when sautéed such as kale, mustard greens, or chard. Vegetables often have a golden or charred appearance on the edges when roasted or sautéed. Roast vegetables in the oven at 400 to 425 degrees F. In sautéing, cook veggies over medium-high heat until tender.

Steaming can also maximize the water-soluble nutrients like B-vitamins and vitamin C. These nutrients don’t do well with high heat. If getting these nutrients is your priority, steam the leafy vegetables.

What vegetables are more nutritious when cooked?

The common misconception of most people is vegetables should be eaten raw. Though it may be true to some cases, there are vegetables that are more nutritious when cooked. Leafy greens, carrots, winter squash, sweet potato, and tomatoes are best cooked since they contain fat-soluble nutrients and carotenoids. Cooking can increase the lycopene content in tomatoes. Lycopene lowers the risk of cancer and heart diseases. Cooking breaks down the thick cell walls in tomatoes which leads to the release of lycopene. Beans should be cooked since they contain high amounts of glycoprotein lectin, a toxin that can cause nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. 

Uncooked potatoes also contain a dangerous toxin called solanine, according to a study from Utah State University. Uncooked starched in potatoes can result in digestive problems, gas, and bloating.

Spinach may be eaten raw but cooking can also increase vitamins A and E, fiber, zinc, protein, calcium, thiamin, and iron in spinach. Spinach also contains carotenoids that thrive best when cooked. Mushrooms can be eaten raw as well but a cup of cooked mushrooms has twice as much potassium, niacin, zinc, and magnesium than a cup of raw mushrooms. 

Are carrots more nutritious when cooked?

Boiling carrots can increase the levels of beta-carotene, according to a study published in the Journal of agricultural and Food Chemistry. Beta-carotene is converted into vitamin A which is essential in improving vision, reproduction, bone growth, and regulation of immune system.  Beta-carotene contains anti-cancer, immune-boosting, and anti-aging properties. Moreover, they also help in the regulation of the intestine, improving night vision, and increasing the number of red blood cells. Beta-carotene also contains anti-anemic properties that gives a subtle blush in your cheeks. 

Moreover, cooking carrots with fats can increase the bioavailability of beta-carotene and can triple the body’s ability to absorb it. 

Which vegetables take the longest to cook?

Artichokes, beets, collard greens and other hearty greens, and potatoes take the longest to cook. However, there are also vegetables that take the longest to cook in different cooking methods. Broccoli, cauliflower, beans, hard squash, and hard cabbage takes the longest to cook when stir-fried.

Which vegetables are healthier raw?

Most cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage, are best eaten raw since they contain myrosinase which converts glucosinolates to cancer-fighting compounds called isothiocyanates. Heat destroys myrosinase that is why most cruciferous vegetables are recommended to be eaten raw. Cooking reduces the cancer-fighting potential of the vegetables.

Broccoli is best eaten raw, according to a study. Broccoli contains a group of cancer-fighting chemicals called glucosinolates. However, it is difficult for the body to absorb glucosinolates without the help of an enzyme called myrosinase which can be found in raw broccoli. Cooking broccoli can kill myrosinase. Broccoli is also high in Vitamin C and has the highest level of carotenoids. 

Brussel sprouts are also best to be eaten raw. Brussel sprouts contain potential cancer-fighting properties and high levels of vitamins C and K and B vitamins. Spinach is usually eaten raw. Eating raw spinach provides folate, vitamin C, niacin, riboflavin, and potassium. 

What vegetables are safe to eat raw?

Eating vegetables raw is most beneficial when you wish to consume water-soluble vitamins like vitamin C and B vitamins. Vegetables with the highest amounts of these nutrients are often recommended to be eaten raw. Antioxidants are also destroyed after cooking. 9-55 percent of vitamin C is lost when cooked. Raw vegetables with the highest antioxidant activity are white onion, green bell peppers, spinach, and more. Raw lettuce and carrots are also safe to eat.

 

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