There are plenty of different ways to add vegetables into your diet and there’s no doubt that they’re a great low calorie source of the essential nutrients that we need. How can you be sure you’re getting the most out of them though? Well, different methods of cooking have different benefits. Here’s our breakdown of these methods and where you can use them.
Boiling may be the most common method of cooking vegetables but it has a pretty big downside. Most nutrients in vegetables are water soluble. Cooking them in water causes these nutrients to seep out. This is fine for things like broths and soups as long as the water isn’t being drained away. To counter these effects, make sure not to overcook your veggies by boiling each type separately. And use less water than you think you might need.
Steaming is a great alternative to boiling because the vegetables are exposed to a higher heat and therefore they require less cooking time. There’s no water surrounding the veggies so the nutrients don’t escape. Steaming helps retain some of the crunch so it’s more pleasant to eat.
Like steaming, microwaving is also short burst of high heat that doesn’t allow nutrients to leach out. Plus, it has the added benefit of being convenient and quick.
Roasting also provides a great source of dry heat for the more sturdy, tougher vegetables. It often provides a slight char which can make your veggies a lot more flavorful. Just be careful not to add too much fat while cooking.
Vegetables You Should Eat Cooked
- Tomatoes: Lycopene, an antioxidant found in tomatoes, is absorbed better when they are cooked.1 This is because the cell walls get broken down enough to make it accessible to our bodies
- Carrots: They contain another antioxidant called beta carotene which also gets broken down, making it easier to absorb.2
- Potatoes: Potatoes are more harmful raw than cooked because they contain mild toxins and uncooked starch that can cause stomach problems.
- Asparagus: Cooking increases the amount of antioxidant activity in asparagus. 3
- Spinach: Nutrients like vitamin A, iron and calcium are more easily available for absorption when spinach is cooked. However, make sure you’re not throwing out the water that leaches out when it’s cooked.4
Vegetables You Should Eat Raw Or Very Slightly Cooked
- Onion: Studies show that raw onion has more antioxidant activity when compared to cooked onion.5
- Red bell pepper: Raw red and green bell peppers are a great source of Vitamin C. A half cup of raw red bell pepper contains
- Cruciferous vegetables: These include broccoli, cabbage, and kale. They have cancer fighting properties which are stronger when they are consumed raw. These veggies in their raw form have been shown to prevent bladder cancer.7
At the end of the day, just make sure to include a good amount of raw and cooked vegetables into your diet.
|↑1||Perdomo, F., Franquiz F. Cabrera, J. Cabrera, and L. Serra-Majem. “Influence of cooking procedure on the bioavailability of lycopene in tomatoes.” Nutricion hospitalaria 27, no. 5 (2012): 1542-1546.|
|↑2||Livny, Orly, Ram Reifen, Itzhak Levy, Zecharia Madar, Richard Faulks, Sue Southon, and Betty Schwartz. “ß-carotene bioavailability from differently processed carrot meals in human ileostomy volunteers.” European journal of nutrition42, no. 6 (2003): 338-345.|
|↑3|| Fanasca, Simone, Youssef Rouphael, Eugenia Venneria, Elena Azzini, Alessandra Durazzo, and Giuseppe Maiani. “Antioxidant properties
|↑4||Eating Defensively: The Nutrition and Food Safety Benefits of Cooked Produce. University Of Florida.|
|↑5||Yang, Jun, Katherine J. Meyers, Jan van der Heide, and Rui Hai Liu. “Varietal differences in phenolic content and antioxidant and antiproliferative activities of onions.” Journal of agricultural and food chemistry 52, no. 22 (2004): 6787-6793.|
|↑6||Vitamin C. National Institutes Of Health.|
|↑7||Tang, Li, Gary R. Zirpoli, Khurshid Guru, Kirsten B. Moysich, Yuesheng Zhang, Christine B. Ambrosone, and Susan E. McCann. “Consumption of raw cruciferous vegetables is inversely associated with bladder cancer risk.” Cancer Epidemiology and Prevention Biomarkers 17, no. 4 (2008): 938-944.|