The Effects of Nutritional Value on Food When CookingPosted by admin on Dec 12, 2012 in Food Preparation | 1 comment
We all want to eat healthily and get the maximum benefits from our food. There are many things which happen during the preparation of food which can have an effect on its nutritional value. Simple things can help to preserve the vitamins and nutrients in your food, such as storing it at the right temperature. The fresher the food, the more nutrients it has, over time the cells in the food begin to break down and it will start to lose important vitamins and minerals.
Many fruits and vegetables store most of their nutrients in their skin, so peeling these foods will take away lots of their goodness. If you are certain that the food has not been treated with chemicals or pesticides, simply washing vegetables before you cook them will help them to retain their nutritional value.
What happens to food during cooking?
During cooking, the cells of the food will soften which generally makes the food easier to digest. Some foods, such as carrots and tomatoes have a reaction during cooking which increases the quantity of essential nutrients such as beta carotene and lycopene, making it healthier to cook them before eating.
Certain cooking methods are more beneficial than others. By cooking foods for too long, such as over boiling, the cells inside break down and valuable water soluble nutrients as well as vitamins and phytochemicals will seep out into the water. Cooking foods at a high heat for a long period will also reduce the nutritional value by burning off minerals and vitamins. As an example, around fifty per cent of the vitamin C content of fruit and vegetables can be lost by cooking for just twenty minutes.
How to retain the nutrients in food
The method of cooking will have a great impact on the foods nutritional value. As a general rule, the longer you cook your food, the more nutrients will be lost. This is also true for foods cooked on a very high heat.
Over boiling vegetables will cause the most nutrients to leach out. The vegetables should be firm when cooked and retain their colour. If they are soft and the colour has faded they have been overcooked and lost most of their nutrients. You can try to combat this by using less water and cooking for a shorter amount of time. You can also try using the vegetable water to make gravy although the nutrient content will be greatly reduced.
A much healthier alternative to boiling vegetables is steaming them. You can either use an electric steamer or a steamer on the hob, this method of cooking helps to retain more nutrients. There is no water for the vitamins and minerals to leach out into and it is less harmful to the cells in the food than boiling.
Microwave cooking is one of the fastest methods, so it helps the food to retain vitamins and minerals due to the short heating time. Stir frying vegetables is also a healthy option provided you do not cook them for too long.