Nutritional properties of vegetables: the importance of the cooking method

by Shopify API on Jan 27, 2023

Did you know that the cooking method can significantly influence the nutritional value of our food? The way we cook can influence both the quantity and quality of its nutrients. Knowing how to cook correctly is essential to make the most of the nutritional properties of vegetables. So if you want to get the most out of your vegetables, read on!

We know the need to incorporate vegetables into our daily diet , we even know how many vegetables we should eat: the food pyramid tells us that there should be more than 2 servings a day. We probably also know that it is important to vary the vegetables we consume to ensure we incorporate the different vitamins and minerals that the numerous varieties of vegetables provide us. A simple rule is to introduce vegetables of different colors into our menus and following the seasonality of each of them, so we are sure that we will be doing it correctly. What we may not know, or give much importance to, is the way we cook them. This is essential to take advantage of the maximum amount of antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and fiber that different vegetables can offer us.

There are many ways to cook, the most used in Mediterranean cuisine are the griddle, oven and cooking in water followed by the use of steam cooking and the microwave.

In all of them we will be losing some of the properties of the food, although it will not be the same for all of them and will even vary depending on the vegetable we cook.

The benefits of steaming to preserve nutrients

Steaming is an excellent option to preserve the nutrients present in vegetables. Steam helps retain essential vitamins and minerals during the cooking process. By steaming, the loss of water-soluble nutrients is minimized.

When we boil vegetables, many of their nutrients are lost in the cooking water. This can be a problem if we want to take full advantage of the nutritional benefits of these foods. However, with the steaming method, most of the nutrients remain within the vegetables.

Steam acts as a kind of protective barrier that prevents nutrients from escaping during cooking. This way, we can enjoy more nutritious vegetables without compromising their flavor or texture.

Plus, steaming is very easy and quick. You just need a pot of hot water and a colander or perforated container to place the vegetables on top of the boiling water. In just a few minutes, you will have tender vegetables full of flavor.

Another advantage of the steaming method is that it does not require adding additional fats, making it a healthy option for those who want to control their caloric intake or maintain a balanced diet.

Reuse of cooking water to maximize nutritional value

The water used to cook vegetables contains nutrients that can be reused. By using cooking water, you avoid wasting valuable micronutrients present in it.

Reusing water also helps reduce environmental impact by avoiding unnecessary disposal. This technique is especially beneficial when using low-salt or no-salt water.

When we cook vegetables, the nutrients are released into the cooking water. These nutrients include mineral salts and water-soluble vitamins such as vitamin C and some of the B complex. Instead of discarding this water, we can use it for other culinary preparations, such as soups or sauces, and thus make the most of its nutritional properties.

Now, it is important to keep in mind that not all vegetables are suitable for reusing cooking water. Those that tend to absorb more mineral salts during cooking, such as potatoes or beans, can make the resulting liquid too rich in sodium or other unwanted components. Therefore, it is advisable to reserve this technique for those vegetables that are not so "thirsty" for mineral salts.

Tips to preserve nutrients when cooking vegetables

When it comes to cooking vegetables, it is important to keep in mind some tips to preserve their nutritional properties. Here are some key recommendations:

Cut vegetables just before cooking

Cutting vegetables just before cooking can help keep their nutritional properties intact. This is because some nutrients, such as vitamin C, can be lost when exposed to air for a long time. By cutting vegetables just before cooking, we can minimize this loss and ensure we get all the nutritional benefits.

Cook over low heat and for a minimum time

Cooking vegetables over low heat and for a minimum of time can minimize nutrient loss. Prolonged, intense heat can cause nutrients to break down or be lost through evaporation. Therefore, it is better to opt for gentler and faster cooking to preserve the nutritional value of the vegetables.

Avoid using excessive water when cooking vegetables

Using too much water when cooking vegetables can cause you to lose important vitamins and minerals. To preserve nutrients, it is best to use as little water as possible when boiling or steaming vegetables. Also, if you decide to boil them, consider reusing the water to maximize their nutritional value.

Use cooking methods such as sautéing or baking

By using cooking methods such as sautéing or baking, we can help maintain nutrients in vegetables.

These methods involve a shorter cooking time and minimal exposure to water, which helps preserve nutrients. Additionally, these methods can enhance the flavor and texture of vegetables, making them even more appetizing.

Comparison of different cooking methods to maintain nutrients

Different cooking methods have different effects on the nutrients present in vegetables. Boiling, for example, can result in greater nutritional loss because some compounds dissolve in the water. On the other hand, roasting or grilling allows you to better retain the antioxidants and fat-soluble vitamins present in vegetables.

Boiling is a commonly used method of cooking vegetables, but it is important to keep in mind that certain nutrients can be lost during this process. Some water-soluble vitamins and minerals can escape into the cooking liquid, which means that if you don't consume that broth, you're also missing out on some of the nutritional value of the vegetables.

On the other hand, when we roast or grill vegetables, we can obtain additional benefits for our health. These methods allow for better retention of antioxidants and fat-soluble vitamins such as vitamin A and vitamin E. Additionally, by cooking vegetables at high temperatures for a short period of time, we can preserve their crunchy texture and natural flavor.

The choice of method will depend on the specific type of nutrient you wish to preserve and personal taste. While boiling may be a valid option for some people due to its ease and speed, others may prefer to roast or grill their vegetables to enjoy a more intense flavor and preserve as many nutrients as possible.

Don't forget to experiment with different cooking methods and recipes to fully enjoy the nutritional properties of vegetables! Your health will thank you.

Let's take this data into account, but above all let's enjoy our food and create tasty recipes with our vegetables.