There’s a lot of talk about eating organic fruits and veg and maintaining a healthy diet with all the major food groups served in appropriate measure. And though you may be following all this sound nutritional advice, the way you’re cooking your food could quickly eliminate any of the health benefits.
Food is the most important thing we put into our bodies, so preparing it well is not only nutritionally important but, by increasing the health benefits and minimising doctor’s visits, it will also save you money in the long run.
So, here are the basics on cooking your food for maximum nutritional value.
Let’s start with food in its natural form – raw. Eating your food raw has the most nutritional benefit, as it retains all its nutrients and fibre, whether it be veggies, nuts, seeds, oils, even fish. Some people don’t have the constitution for raw food, so blending, juicing or lightly steaming is best for them.
And for those who like to eat meat on the rarer side, make sure you cook your steak enough to destroy any harmful bacteria.
Baking is much better than frying, as long as you use the right oil, because some oils become rancid at high temperatures. Coconut oil is best, but whatever oil you choose, it’s best to bake slower at lower temperatures to ensure you don’t burn the life out of your food.
Another slow-cooking option that’s ideal for colder weather, stewing uses the food’s own juices to soften and retain nutrients. Simply pop your ingredients and stock into a slow cooker and cook on uber-low heat so your meal is ready at the end of the day.
It’s a healthy way to cook vegetables, but some of the nutrients do leach into the water. So, use as little water as possible to do your steaming, then keep it and use as veggie stock or as gravy for your meal.
The same principle in steaming applies to boiling. A lot of nutrients will stay in the liquid, so once you’re done with the cooking, pour the water into a glass jar and save for soup or stock.
As long as you use the right oils in the right amounts, pan-frying can still be healthy, convenient and quick. Go for coconut, olive and sesame oils (or ghee) and cook on lower heat, if possible.
This is easily the unhealthiest cooking option, as high heat and unstable oil can be very harmful to your health. While deep-frying will destroy most fat-soluble vitamins, some mineral and nutritional value can be retained when frying in short times at high temperatures. If you do have to deep-fry, use peanut oil, vegetable oil or rice bran oil.
8. Using the BBQ
While this method of cooking can be carcinogenic, barbecuing your food once in a while is okay, as long as you don’t char your meat, as the carcinogens will build up in your body over time and cause you harm. Cook quickly and on high heat, using canola, olive or vegetable oil.
10. Freeze-dried food
This is the second-best way to retain the nutrients in your food. Look for fresh, freeze dried berries and fruits in your supermarket freezer, and don’t be afraid of using frozen veggies when you don’t have time to prepare fresh ones.
While cooking in a microwave has been a source of controversy, science shows that microwaving your food compares with other cooking methods when it comes to retaining nutrients. But you should consider using your cooktop first, as low-dose radiation exposure can compound over a lifetime.
Using your blender for smoothies is a quick and easy way to consume most of the fibre and nutrients of raw foods. But if you have the time, eating these same foods in their raw, unblended state will do you more good over time.
If you do go for juice, try to maintain as much of the pulp as possible, as most juicing methods filter out the fibre content – and therefore nutritional value – making your food much less effective.
Read more at Huff Post.
What’s your preferred cooking method? Do you place the nutritional value of your food over taste and texture? Do you have any cooking tips for our members?