One of the foremost things that most of us pay attention to is our food and how it is cooked. While eating nutritious food can improve our health and energy levels, the way it is cooked can impact the nutritional value in it.
Prolonged exposure to water, heat, and light may cause some foods to lose nutritional value like vitamin B1 and vitamin C. For instance, the levels of water-soluble vitamins such as Vitamin C and the B vitamins — thiamin (B1), riboflavin (B2), niacin (B3), pantothenic acid (B5), pyridoxine (B6), folic acid (B7) and cobalamin (B8); fat-soluble vitamins like Vitamins A, D, E and K and minerals like potassium, magnesium, sodium and calcium, may decrease.
In general, the longer food is stored in a refrigerator, freezer or cupboard, the greater is the nutrient loss. Here are some easy tips to help you retain nutrients in your sumptuous platter.
The thumb rule is to always wash the vegetables first and then chop them. Chopping first and then washing them takes away the nutrition of your food.
Don’t chop minutely
It is not a good practice to chop vegetables into very small pieces as most of the nutrients will be destroyed when they come in contact with air. The best way is to chop the vegetable into larger chunks.
Vegetables which have roots, like potato, turnip and carrots, should be boiled with skins and the peel should be removed after boiling as it will help the nutrients to gather at the centre of the vegetable and help in better retention of its nutrients. While frying leads to some loss of vitamin C in potatoes, it increases fat calories which detract from the nutritive value of potatoes. Deep-fat frying also destroys vitamin E which is found in vegetable oils.
Pay attention to the cooking time
The longer the cooking time and the higher the temperature, the more nutrients are destroyed as most of the vitamins are sensitive to heat and air exposure.
It is recommended to cook vegetables in meagre amounts of water as boiling in too much water damages nutrients. It is best advised to cook the veggies covered on low flame.
Re-heating food destroys the chemical structure of nutrients and vitamins. In fact, cooked vegetables that are reheated after being kept in the refrigerator for two or three days lose more than half their vitamin C.
Don’t use baking soda
When cooking vegetables, don’t use baking soda as it destroys vitamin C content of the veggies. It, however, helps in retaining the colour of the vegetables as well as speeds up the cooking process.
Cook only freshly chopped veggies
Cook freshly chopped veggies as the vitamins and minerals are intact. Once they are exposed to light and air, the nutrient content can be destroyed. But to prolong their freshness, keep them well-wrapped to reduce exposure to air.
Eat freshly cooked food
Eating freshly cooked food is preferred as the depletion of nutrients could be slowed down. It is a good idea to eat within four hours of cooking your food.