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How to cook without loosing their vitamins and nutrients
We all know the importance of getting our 5-9 servings of fruits and vegetables each day in order to reduce our risk of certain chronic diseases such as cancer. But are you really getting the maximum impact from the vegetables you eat or are you cooking away all the vitamins, nutrients, and antioxidants?
Eg;-A recent study conducted in the U.K. showed boiling vegetables that are members of the cruciferous family, including cabbage, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts, significantly reduces their anticancer properties. The active anticancer ingredient, which is destroyed by the boiling process, is called gucosinolate. Glucosinolate is an important compound that converts inside the body to a cancer-fighting chemical called isothiocynate, which helps to remove cancer-causing components from our system. When cruciferous vegetables are boiled, most of this important compound is destroyed along with the cancer protective properties.
Vegetables are a crucial component of a nutrient-rich diet. While eating them raw is an excellent way to get all the vitamins and nutrients they have to offer, some vegetables are impossible to eat raw, and some people cannot tolerate raw vegetables.
Benefits of Cooking
Cooking has also some beneficial effects. It improves the appearance and palatability of foods and confers new flavors. Cooing also destroys harmful food borne microorganisms. Digestibility of several foods, particularly of starch improves on cooking. During cooking starch swells and cell walls burst making it easy for the enzymes in the digestive juices to have access to starch and digest it. Cooking eggs helps in destroying avidin, which is known to bind biotin and make it unavailable. Some legumes contain trypsin inhibitors, particularly Soya bean. Protein digestibility is reduced by trypsin inhibitor. Heating or autoclaving the legumes help destroy the trypsin inhibitor and improve protein quality. Similarly duck eggs also contain a trypsin inhibitor in the white portion. Prolonged boiling or autoclaving can destroy this inhibitor. In general, quality of proteins improves after cooking since their access to enzyme and their digestibility improves.
Common Ways of Losing Nutrition That You Should Avoid
- Wash the vegetables rid them of pesticides, but do not soak them. Water takes away nutrients
- The most effective way of retaining all of the vitamins in a vegetable is the eat a clean fresh vegetable as it is, without cooking or heat.
- Buy the freshest produce possible. Vegetables start losing nutrients the moment they are harvested. Check out the local farmer’s market for the freshest selection
- Cook the vegetables soon after buying them. The longer they sit in the refrigerator, the more nutrients lose.
- Cook the vegetables with very little water.Put the water that is left after steaming into a soup or sauce, to take advantage of all of the vitamins and minerals leached out during steaming nutrients they lose.
- Frozen vegetables have just as many nutrients as fresh vegetables do. Often they are frozen shortly after being picked, so they are packed with nutrients.
- Use a lid to avoid steaming away precious vitamins.
- Avoid cutting vegetables up into very small pieces. Wash vegetables before cutting though washing after cutting will lose certain nutrients such as vitamin C,folic acid, thiamine etc
- Use a sharp knife when cutting fresh vegetables; bruising vegetables can deplete them of valuable vitamins
- Cut off only the inedible parts of vegetables. Sometimes the best nutrients are found in the skin (or just below the skin and in the leaves).
For any foods that grow under the ground, a lot of the vitamins and minerals are found just under the skin. For example, potatoes – most of the nutrition is just under the skin. So just by peeling them, we peel past the thin layer under the skin and lose a lot of the main vitamins, minerals and nutrients. On the other hand, in the case of foods that grow above the ground, the nutrition is mainly in the core or centre. Avoid peeling vegetables such as potatoes and beets until after cooking
Put away the peeler. When apples and cucumbers are peeled, their antioxidant content decreases by 33% to 66%.
Good cooking methods retain more vitamins, minerals and other nutrients
The high fiber content, the vitamins and the minerals are the main reasons to eat vegetables. However, cooking them the wrong way may diminish their nutrients. Steaming is the best way
probably the best method for preparing vegetables to preserve their vitamin and anticancer properties is to Steam your vegetables. Steaming vegetables in a steamer or double boiler cooks without bleeding the nutrients. Both metal and bamboo steamers can be used. Steaming allows the vegetable to retain its nutrients because it does not come in contact with the water. If you do not have a steamer, use a double boiler with a slotted pan on top. Leafy vegetables like spinach steam for about four minutes, denser vegetables such as broccoli can steam for up to 15 minute
If you have neither a steamer nor slotted double boiler, you can steam vegetables in the microwave to the same effect. Use as little water as possible and cook on a low power level for a short amount of time. When micro waving, leave the vegetables in larger pieces so as to absorb less water.
Stir-frying considered a healthy cooking method because vegetables are cooked without water, in small amount of oil and only a few minutes on the high heat. Vegetables and meats should be sliced thin in order to heat fast. Because it’s fast, stir-frying sears the outside of what’s being cooked, locking nutrients inside The key to stir frying is cutting the vegetables into small enough pieces so that they cook quickly. The less time in the heat, the less chance of nutrient breakdown
Boiling is the most common cooking method but this method causes the greatest loss of nutrients in vegetables. Many of the vitamins and minerals are leached out into the cooking fluids and can be lost forever if those fluids are thrown away. You can restore most of the vitamins if you will use water, in which your vegetables were boiled, to make sauce, gravy or soup.
If cooked vegetables stored and then re-heated later, most of their vitamins will be destroyed and vitamin C content will be near zero.
A vitamin loss during boiling process also depends on the type of vegetables. The greatest losses occur in leafed vegetables, seed-vegetables lose less of their vitamin content, and root-vegetables the best retain their nutritional content. If you use lots of water and boil for long time, you’re going to lose more nutrients than if you boil quickly and use relatively little water.
B. Baking and Roasting
When dry heat is used during cooking it’s called baking if we do it to the bread and if we do it to the meat it’s called roasting. Baking of the bread and roasting of the meat also leads to destructions of nutrients.
During simple baking of the bread, content of vitamins in flour is decreasing. Studies are showing that around 30% of thiamine content destroyed in bread when it’s baked. When baking powder is added than half of the thiamine content can be destroyed. Remember, toasting of the bread leads to the further loss of vitamins. If you wish to minimize vitamin loss, than chose light toasting for your bread.
Roasting, frying and grilling are the best cooking methods for meats because there is no water where valuable nutrients can leach into. Studies are showing that roasted or grilled meat losing 20% of its vitamins and boiled or stewed meat losing 50% of its vitamin content.
When you will use juices of roasted meat for gravy or something else, that way you will restore most of the lost vitamins. Overcooking of the meat leads to great destructions of vitamins and minerals.
Deep frying method uses hot oil and that is very destructive for nutrients and it also adds calories to the food that is cooked. Especially destructive this method for the vitamin E. Studies have shown that cooking food in fats and oils destroys between 70% and 90% of vitamin E.
Frying causes great distractions of vitamin A in margarine. After 5 minutes of frying margarine losses 40% of vitamin A and 70% lost in 15 minutes
Effects of Heating
If fat is repeatedly heated during frying it may end up containing toxic substances, due to per oxidation and rancidity. Use a minimum quantity of fat for frying and avoid using it over and over again.
Excessive heating may compromise nutritive value of proteins, particularly if the heating is done in presence of free reducing sugars since in this process amino acid lysine of proteins combine with carbohydrate rendering lysine unavailable. Excessive heating of milk, which contains lactose and other foods with jiggery, may be undesirable since this may lead to browning and reduce the protein quality. Even storing for prolonged periods, foods like milk products under moist condition may lead to browning.
Did Microwave Ovens Kill Nutrients in Food?
THE FACTS They are a staple in kitchens everywhere, but for about as long as microwave ovens have been around, people have suspected that the radiation they emit can destroy nutrients in food and vegetables. According to most studies, however, the reality is quite the opposite. Every cooking method can destroy vitamins and other nutrients in food. The factors that determine the extent are how long the food is cooked, how much liquid is used and the cooking temperature.
Since microwave ovens often use less heat than conventional methods and involve shorter cooking times, they generally have the least destructive effects. The most heat-sensitive nutrients are water-soluble vitamins, like folic acid and vitamins B and C, which are common in vegetables.
In studies at Cornell University, scientists looked at the effects of cooking on water-soluble vitamins in vegetables and found that spinach retained nearly all its folate when cooked in a microwave, but lost about 77 percent when cooked on a stove. They also found that bacon cooked by microwave has significantly lower levels of cancer-causing nitrosamines than conventionally cooked bacon.
When it comes to vegetables, adding water can greatly accelerate the loss of nutrients. One study published in The Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture in 2003 found that broccoli cooked by microwave — and immersed in water — loses about 74 percent to 97 percent of its antioxidants. When steamed or cooked without water, the broccoli retained most of its nutrients.
THE BOTTOM LINE : Microwave ovens generally do not destroy nutrients in food.
Some Healthy facts about cooking
A. Vitamin lose while cooking
Vitamins, especially those of water-soluble B group, show a greater loss during cooking. Vitamin A and carotene are not lost during wet cooking however; cooking in acid media with tamarind and other acids has a protective effect against vitamins.
- Vitamin C is lost during exposure of cut vegetables. Cooked vegetables when exposed to atmosphere before serving may also result in loss of vitamin C. It is preferable to cook vegetables in minimum amount of water with the vessel covered with a lid and to consume it as soon as possible
- Vitamins A and C
- Vitamin C and vitamin A are the vitamins lost most easily: Vitamin C is sensitive to heat, oxygen and light, whereas vitamin A is sensitive to acid in addition to heat, oxygen and light. A vegetable will start to lose its vitamin C content when it is boiled above 190 degrees F. Frying, grilling, pressure cooking and roasting vegetables will also lead to the decomposition of vitamin C. The same processes affect vitamin A as well.
Green leafy vegetables like broccoli and kale are high in vitamins A and C, as are sweet potatoes and carrots. Mushrooms, peas and avocado are also high in vitamin C but not A.
B. Cooking Vegetables in Water
Most foods naturally have juices in them and do not need adding water to, to cook. When you cook peas or spinach for instance, and put some water in, what colour does the water turn to? Green! When you cook carrots in water, the water turns orange. This is because the water takes on the colour of the vegetables. Experts say, when you lose colour, you lose vitamins and part of the nutritional value of food; and when you lose taste or flavour, you’ve lost minerals. Some protein may be lost if vegetables are cooked in water containing salt and the cooking water is discarded. There causes considerable loss of minerals, especially Sodium, Potassium and Calcium due to leaching. The nutrition we are throwing away unconsciously is exactly what our bodies need to fight diseases, to perform its functions properly, and for good subsistence. Now you know that many vitamins and other valuable nutrients will leach into water when food is cooked in large amount of water. So if you want to preserve vitamin loss in your foods the best cooking methods will be where minimum amount of water is used or no water used.
Remember, if your vegetables or meat cooked in water do not throw that water away because it rich in vitamins, use it for gravy or soup or something else. And one more thing, when food is cooked for long period and under high heat it will lose its nutrients forever.
C. Nutrient lose while cooking Rice
Rice has a special problem with regard to loss of nutrients, i.e. minerals and vitamins, during cooking since its normal nutrient content is low.
Certain amount of minerals and vitamins are lost even during preliminary washing before cooking. Hence washing with a large quantity of water and repeated washing must be avoided. Washing may remove as much as 40% of the thiamine and nicotinic acid. Rice must be washed, if washing is necessary, with minimum amount of water.
Boiling rice in excess water and discarding the gruel (kanjee) also results in loss of some amount of minerals and vitamins. However, loss due to discarding of kanjee is not as much as during washing. Cook in just sufficient amount of water so that all the water is absorbed and no kanjee is discarded. However, if paddy is parboiled and that rice is used, loss of vitamin and minerals due to washing and discarding of kanjee is much less. Parboiling diffuses nutrients into the grain and a protective gelatinised starch coating is formed on the grain preventing leaching.
D. Add More Fiber
You can increase the nutritional content of your meals by adding high fiber foods. Use whole wheat flour instead of white flour; it’s higher in fiber and also contains more protein and higher levels of vitamin E. Add lentils or beans to salads, soups and stews. They’re low in fat, but high in protein, fiber, vitamins and minerals; high-fiber foods also make you feel full longer, so you won’t be tempted to overeat.
When cooking, pay attention to the food pyramid and the calorie information it provides. You’ll notice that your diet should consist mostly of whole grains, balanced with vegetables, fruits, dairy products and meat. Avoid fats and sugars. These foods have a high calorie contents and very few nutrients.
When frying, avoid butter, vegetable shortening and margarine, as they are high in saturated fats; use a small amount of olive
E. Something about raw and cooked vegetables
Raw Vegetables To Avoid
Usually doctors recommend taking vegetables in raw form. But it is not applicable to all type of vegetables. Avoid eating cruciferous vegetables raw as they contain chemicals which block the production of the thyroid hormone. This would especially affect those trying to lose weight
Some of these vegetables include Broccoli,kale,cauliflower,bak,choy,cabbage,turnip,Brussels sports,turnip,and radish..cooking reduces these thyroid affecting substances by two third..
Raw Carrots Or Cooked Carrots Better?
Cooking breaks down the tough cellular walls
Carrots are one of the best sources of beta-carotene. The body converts beta- carotene into Vitamin A .which is important in reproduction, vision, bone growth and also regulating the immune system. So if we are to eat more carrots – do we eat them raw or cooked?
It has been found that cooking carrots actually increases the level of beta-carotene. The reason is that raw carrots have tough cellular walls. Cooking carrots will dissolve the walls and free the nutrients to be available to the body. An experiment carried out at the Institute of Food Research in 2009 showed that the body can absorb about 5% of the beta carotene from a single carrot, whereas when it is boiled, the carrot released 60% and blended and then boiled a whopping 90%!!
So have some cooked carrots by boiling them instead of eating them raw. Same goes for zucchini and broccoli.
Cooked Or Raw Tomatoes Better?
Cooked tomatoes higher antioxidant power
F. Add Oil Dressing To Raw Vegetables
Helps Better Absorption
When eating raw vegetables like your salad greens and tomatoes ,adding some oil based dressing will help absorption of the carotenoids better.olive oil especially extra virgin oil is an excellent choice for this purpose
G. Green vegetables kept in the dark and bottom may soon lose much of their nutrients
The green leaves on the bottom of a stack of vegetables won’t be exposed to light and will lose vitamins and other nutrients faster than produce exposed to bright lights. Without exposure to light, photosynthesis, your green vegetables soon lose their nutritious value. If you don’t eat raw vegetables, steaming the vegetables preserves the compounds better in the fresh vegetables than other methods of cooking by heat.
H .Take a break after chopping certain veggies.
After chopping collard greens, Brussels sprouts, or cauliflower, wait about 10 minutes before you cook or eat them. Some studies show that time enhances activation of certain nutrients in the vegetables.
**Let the stinky stuff breathe. Garlic, onions, and leeks can be quickly drained of many of their nutritional benefits when cooked. To maximize nutrient availability, slice up garlic, onions, and leeks and let them stand for about 10 minutes before further handling or cooking them, allowing time for some nutrients to be released
I. In case of fish and meat
- Avoid cutting meat, poultry and fish into pieces. The more surface area that is exposed during cooking, the more vitamins will be lost.
- Broil or grill meat and poultry, and steam fish to retain the most vitamins. The less cooking done to the meat, poultry and fish, the more vitamins are retained. Therefore, a rare steak will have more vitamins than one that is cooked well-done.
Making fish curry is better than making fish fry.
The Best Way to Cook Red Meat Without Destroying the Proteins, Vitamins & Minerals
Red meat contains a number of essential nutrients, including protein, vitamin E, the B vitamins, iron, zinc, magnesium, phosphorus, and small amounts of selenium and beta carotene. The way you cook red meat can affect the nutrient composition of the meat; some cooking methods cause higher nutrient losses than others.
Water-soluble vitamins, such as the B vitamins, tend to be the most affected by cooking methods, but fat-soluble vitamins, including vitamin E, can sometimes be affected.
# One of the best cooking methods for red meat if you want to minimize vitamin losses is stir frying, according to the European Food Information Council. Stir frying uses only small amounts of oil and liquid and involves short cooking times, although sometimes the temperatures used are a bit high.
J. Juicing & losing nutrients
Reducing Nutrient Loss When Blending Fruits
Even though nutrient loss occurs gradually over time, you can take steps to reduce exposure to heat and oxygen when blending fruit. Some blenders can become warm when used for an extended time or when handling a hefty serving of large fruit pieces. To minimize heat exposure, blend your fruit in small batches for the shortest length of time possible. Avoiding over-blending fruit also reduces its exposure to oxygen. Using the lowest speed setting possible will introduce the least amount of oxygen into your smoothie. And, the sooner you drink your smoothie after making it, the fewer nutrients it will lose. If you are not going to drink the blended fruit right away, make sure it is refrigerated to minimize heat exposure.
One of the major nutrients lost when juicing fruits and vegetables is dietary fiber, the material found in plant cell walls. Juicing separates the cell walls from the cell content, leaving fiber in the juicer filter while filtering water and other nutrients into the juice. Since dietary fiber adds bulk to the food in your stomach and intestines, drinking juice might be less filling than eating whole vegetables and fruits
Juicing might also cause a loss of nutrients if you store your juice instead of drinking the juice right away. While nutrients within whole fruits and vegetables are protected from the environment by their cell walls and plant skins, juicing exposes these nutrients to the environment. Exposure to sunlight, oxygen and humidity can all degrade nutrients in your juices, reducing the vitamin content of your juice. Heating your juice also reduces its nutrient content.
Healthy cooking ~ Healthy life.
Dr Apsara VR
Ayurveda medical officer, Dhanvandharimadam, Trivandrum.