Cooking To Retain Nutritional Value

By Melita Sheppard

During cooking, food undergoes chemical changes. The effects of this process are not always negative, but valuable nutrients can be lost. This doesn’t mean you should never roast your vegetables, or that you need to eat only raw foods to acquire your recommended daily intake of vitamins and minerals. It’s important to use a variety of different cooking methods to keep your meals interesting and get you excited about your veggies! After all, only about half of us manage to eat the recommend 5 serves per day.

Does cooking effect all nutrients in the same way?

No; some vitamins and minerals are better retained than others. Fat­ soluble vitamins, A, D, E and K for example are more stable than water­ soluble vitamins like C, and therefore less likely to deteriorate when heated. And the antioxidants in some vegetables, those rich in carotenoids, are actually better absorbed by the body when lightly cooked. Tomatoes, broccoli and dark leafy green vegetables are a few examples of theses.

So when it comes to vegetable consumption, our primary goal should always be to reach 5 serves, or approximately 375g (raw) per day. We should experiment with different methods of cooking, but for optimal nutritional value limit cooking time, temperature and contact with water.

Simple Tips:

  • Steam or blanch vegetables and if boiling, use only a small amount of water
  • Keep vegetable pieces big and chunky to limit oxidative losses
  • Don’t over cook your veggies, keep them crunchy and bright
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