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Optimal Way to Cook Vegetables For Nutrition

The best way to cook vegetables depends on the vegetable

Is the raw veggie diet is the best way to go?

Think again if you believe that the raw veggie diet is the best way to go for optimal nutrition. According to CSNA Sports Nutrition and ACE Certified personal trainer Sylvain Cyr advises that “By cooking local seasonal vegetables slightly, you will soften the tough fibrous shell and loosen up all the inner nutritional good stuff. The best way to cook vegetables depends on the type of vegetable’

Some vegetables are even healthier if you eat them cooked

Believe it or not, some vegetables are healthier if you eat them cooked, such as tomatoes. The best way to cook vegetables…the cooking process boosts the antioxidant lycopene potent level.” He points out, “Beware that not all cooking methods are the same. Some boost nutrient content and some taketh away and some add the crucial amount of fat for your body to absorb all the nutrients in vegetables.”

Some studies have shown to microwave your veggies for maximum antioxidant preservation. According to a Spanish study of how various cooking methods impact vegetable antioxidant capacity, microwaves reign on the top in prepping vegetables to retain their nutrients. Word of caution: the exception is cauliflower where when nuked loses more than 50 percent of its antioxidants.

Grilling may be the best way to cook vegetables

Celery, beets, onions, green beans and Swiss chard cook particularly well on the grill if kept in firm texture. Grilling is one of the best ways to cook vegetables. Gilling allows vegetables to retain as many antioxidants as microwaving, according to the Spanish researchers. Caution: Avoid cooking with olive oil heated above 210–216 °C (410–421 °F). The low burning point of the oil creates toxins linked to cancer.

Baking decreases nutrient levels in some vegetables

Baking, or roasting, is hit-or-miss. Study results showed  that baking your artichokes, asparagus, broccoli, and peppers allowed them to retain their antioxidant values. Baking decreases nutrient levels in carrots, leeks, cauliflower, peas, zucchini, onions, Brussels sprouts, beans, celery, beets, and garlic. Where baking works best to increase antioxidant levels is with green beans, eggplant, corn, spinach and Swiss chard.

Frying fails

Frying: probably no surprise that this method fails the test when it comes to antioxidants and nutrition levels. In addition to adding way too much fat to your meal, it caused a loss of between 5 and 50 percent of each vegetable’s nutrients.

Boiling is the worst method to cook vegetables

Boiling is the worst method if you want to retain antioxidants in your vegetables . Particularly susceptible to losing nutrients through boiling are peas, cauliflower, and zucchini. Except for carrots where a 2008 Italian study found that boiling boosted their carotenoid content more so than steaming or frying them. If you boiled your vegetables, be sure to save the nutrient-rich water and use it the next time you make a sauce or soup.

Most vitamins and nutrients in vegetables are fat soluble

Steaming is the best way to cook vegetables for preserving antioxidants found in broccoli and zucchini. Contrary to belief, this method is not the best way to prep vegetables. Most vitamins and nutrients in vegetables are fat soluble, meaning that your body absorbs nutrients better in the presence of fat. If you prefer steaming your vegetables, toss them with extra virgin olive oil before serving to boost flavour and nutrient absorption.

Sautéing is similar to that of microwaving: cooking your vegetables over high heat in a short amount of time. That minimizes nutrient loss, and the oil in which you’re sautéing them helps your body absorb more of the nutrients. Beware of pans that are coated in non-stick chemicals that make cooking and cleaning convenient but may contain toxins linked to cancer. Shop for one without the coating, or use a thick frying pan with oil.

The best way to cook vegetables really depends on the type of vegetable you are cooking.  Choose the best method for the vegetable to get maximum nutrients.