We are all familiar with the various cooking methods that enable us to have mouthwatering food which take our taste buds on a trip to paradise. However, in our quest for tasty food we often unintentionally forget or ignore the impact cooking methods can have on the nutrition provided by the cooked food.
Excess heat can destroy many nutrients from food like potassium, folate and Vitamin C. Some studies have shown that some foods have increased nutritional value as a result of cooking. It has been proven that tomatoes, spinach and carrots tend to release more antioxidants when exposed to heat. Hence, it is best to know which cooking methods will ensure maximum physical wellbeing.
Microwaving is known to have the most minimal loss in nutrients due to cooking. As the food gets heated from the inside out, there is no need to add extra oils to cook it. Drying out can be avoided by sprinkling water on the food before microwaving or by placing a wet paper towel over the dish. It can be used on all food groups and is known to preserve the nutrients in vegetables. The only thing to be kept in mind is to use a microwave safe dish to do the cooking using this method.
Boiling is another easy and healthy way to cook food. Some water and a dash of salt can give us well cooked and healthy food. However, boiling food at very high temperatures or in a large amount of water can result in loss of nutrients up to 70%. Hence, care must be taken to ensure minimal loss of nutrients with the process.
Steaming any food item will help the food to get cooked in its own juices. The moisture of the food and the nutrients within it are protected. It is best to season the food with salt or lemon juice before steaming. Foods like broccoli provide best benefits when steamed as it helps to release the glucosinolates which inhibit the growth of cancer cells.
Poaching, which involves cooking a food in small quantity of hot water is another healthy method of cooking fruits, eggs and fish can be cooked well using this method. Some experts are of the view that the longer time it takes to cook using this method can result in loss of nutrients in vegetables.
Broiling is an effective way to cook soft meats, though it is not good for cooking vegetables which can dry out easily. The direct high heat which is directed at the food for a short amount of time can result in fast and efficient cooking of the meat.
Grilling requires use of a minimal amount of oil or fats and it can be used to cook both vegetable and meats. It also imparts a smoky favour to the dish thereby increasing the desirability of the cooking method. However, it should not be a regular method of cooking as research shows that regular consumption of charred food can increase chances of breast cancer and pancreatic cancer. It is best to use this method for cooking lean cut of meat which requires less cooking time.
Stir frying involves use of very small amount of oil to cook the food. It is best suited for cooking thinly cut vegetables and meat and grains like quinoa and rice.
Eating food raw, without any cooking can also provide food with no nutrient loss. However, it becomes possible only for plant-based food. Moreover, it has been proven that nutrients of some vegetables get enhanced while cooking.