Monday, July 11, 2011

Burning Questions : Cooking Healthy Veggies

What is the healthiest way to prepare vegetables?  I mean the obvious answer is "not drowning them in butter", but is it true that boiling vegetables causes some large % of their nutrients to escape into the water?  And is it true that overcooking vegetables causes their healthy fibers to break down?  
  • So, I am not a nutritionist, but from what I know I will say yes- boiling vegetables definitely causes vitamins and some minerals to get dumped down the drain with the water.  Sauteing or steaming until bright and slightly tender are better options.  You can use a microwave for this (I don't even have a microwave, so I never do this.  I think it makes everything taste nasty and it sort of freaks me out), or a mesh colander with a lid over a pot of boiling water if you don't own a steaming basket.  Or, just add just a little tiny bit of water in your pan with the veggies, cover it up, and let it and steam itself.  That way, you don't dump out a big pot of vitamin water :)  
  • In the same sense, some fiber is definitely lost when veggies are overcooked.  I would again recommend sauteing or steaming so that they remain a little crisp.  I almost always saute my vegetables in olive oil.  To get the most fiber, raw veggies are probably best. 
  • One random exception to keep in mind is tomatoes: while the vitamin levels (lots of vitamin C) decrease in cooking, the amount of lycopene increases dramatically, and is better absorbed by the body, when the tomato is cooked.  Yummy antioxidants!

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