A healthy diet is not just about choosing the foods we eat. The way we cook these foods is also very important. It is important to know some basics about the thermal preparation of food,
A healthy diet is not just about choosing the foods we eat. The way we cook these foods is also very important. It is important to know some basics about the thermal preparation of food, so that you know how to get the optimal amount of nutrients from the food you cook.
What happens to food during cooking?
Cooking can eliminate between 15% and 55% of vitamins and minerals. You wonder then why we still cook food. Well, in addition to the nutritional part, the thermal preparation also destroys most of the bacteria in food. Therefore, cooking helps us to prevent diseases such as food poisoning. Proper cooking also provides the body with benefits such as:
- easier digestion of food;
- nutrient absorption and metabolism is improved;
- destruction of anti-nutrients;
A good example is vegetables from the cruciferous family (cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, radishes, kale) that contain substances that can cause thyroid enlargement. However, these substances can only affect you if you eat raw vegetables. By thermal preparation you will eliminate this risk.
The healthiest methods of thermal preparation
- Steam cooking – it is good to know that soluble nutrients such as vitamin B or C, do not evaporate with the resulting steam. If you cook the food this way, you will keep almost 60% of the nutritional value.
- Sauteing – is a healthy method due to the small amount of fat used, but also the short time required for preparation. It is ideal to cut meat and vegetables into small pieces to shorten the cooking process.
- Grilling – is considered one of the tastiest and healthiest methods of cooking. But it is preferable to roast on an electric grill or one with water. Studies show that burnt portions of grilled meat can increase the incidence of cancer. The smoke resulting from the fat dripping directly on the flame is very toxic.
- Poaching – is a lesser known method of cooking, which is used to prepare especially eggs, but also fine meat (fish). Food is cooked in a small amount of hot water, without it boiling.
- Pressure cooking – pressure cookers have the role of reducing the boiling time of water. Thus the time and amount of water needed to prepare food is reduced, which leads to less nutrients destroyed.
- Baking – baked food has a unique flavor. You can bake a wide variety of foods, even without using fats, with complete freedom in terms of spices, herbs, and sauces used.
Cooking methods we should avoid
- Frying – You’ve probably heard that foods fried in oils or other fats are unhealthy. First of all, the caloric intake of oils in combination with food cannot be ignored. Take the potato for example: a 100 g baked potato will contain 93 calories and 0 g of fat, and 100 g of french fries will contain 319 calories and 17 g of fat. It should be noted that the fats resulting from frying are trans fats, considered some of the most harmful to the body. These result from the process by which hydrogen comes in contact with vegetable oil (a process called hydrogenation) and lead to increased cholesterol levels. If from time to time you choose to cheat with a portion of french fries, still choose to cook them in an oil with a higher burning point.
- Boiling – well, this method of cooking is not directly harmful to health, but it can not be considered healthy. The reason is that the high volume of water needed for boiling, as well as the high temperatures required for the process, lead to the destruction of much of the vitamins and up to 70% of minerals.
Keep this list in mind when planning your meals. To really enjoy the nutrients in food, it is advisable to regularly eat a moderate amount of fresh fruits and vegetables.
This concept means that you will consume all raw foods, to make sure that your body benefits from all the vitamins and all the nutrients in them. But some foods must be cooked to be healthier.
Examples of foods that bring more health benefits to cooking:
- Cooking tomatoes release lycopene;
- Carrots, potatoes, or spinach, after heat processing release antioxidants;
- There are 3 times more antioxidants in boiled carrots than in raw ones and more lycopene in ripe tomatoes;
- Broccoli provides the most antioxidants when steamed by the bain-marie method.
- There are 4 vegetables that do not lose their antioxidants even by boiling, namely: asparagus, artichokes, onions and beets.
- Cooked green beans (except for boiling under pressure) miraculously enrich themselves with antioxidants.
- Boiled celery is richer in nutrients than raw celery.
The exception to the cooking rule is bell pepper. Regardless of the heat processing method, bell peppers lose up to 75% of their antioxidants, so it is preferable to eat them raw.