Are your nutrients compromised ?
We are all aware of the various sources of the essential nutrients required by our body for a healthy living. However, the preparation process plays an important role in determining how much benefit we will derive by their consumption.The exact amount of nutrients compromised during cooking varies depending on the characteristics of the foods and the processes followed.
- Cleaning or washing is the first step to ensure food safety. It helps us to get rid of the dirt, pesticide, harmful bacteria, and bugs. Washing not only increases the quality and safety of food but also the extends the shelf life of the fruits and vegetables.
- Cold water : It can remove 70-80% of dirt and pesticides.
- Warm water : More effective than cold water for washing the root vegetables like potato, ginger, etc. You can use a brush to scrub.
- Water with diluted salt : This helps in the removal of pesticides covering the surface of various food items.
- Vinegar soak : Make a solution of 10% white vinegar and 90% water to soak the fruits and vegetables. Make sure to rinse it with water. This is a very effective method to clean your fresh vegetables.
- Blanch and Peel : Another effective way of cleaning is to blanch in hot water. This removes harmful residue to a great extent.You can also peel off the skin. Its ideal for non vegetarian food. The skin of fish is mostly contaminated withmercury. There is always unhealthy fat and unwanted residue in the skin of chicken and meat. One should always avoid eating the skin.
- Potassium Permanganate : This removes a variety of chemical residues from fruits and vegetables. It removes Bacterium and prevents cholera. It also kills parasitic worms present in contaminated soil and animals.
- Drying the food items after washing helps to get rid of the excess bacteria present thereby increasing their shelf life.
Consuming Raw :
Consuming raw food is beneficial in a lot of ways. The body is better able to prevent and fight chronic diseases. You get a better supply of water soluble nutrients like Vitamin C and Folate which gets destroyed while cooking. you ca get a lot of fiber from eating raw fruits and vegetables. This helps you in maintaining weight and fighting against cardio-vascular disease.
However, raw diet lacks some of the important nutrients like protein, vitamin B12, zinc, iron, calcium, fatty acids, and vitamin D. Since the food has not been cooked, bacteria that may be present in it might infect the body.
Cooking breaks down the thick cell walls of many plants, releasing the nutrients stored in them.
1. Boiling :
Most of the vitamins are water soluble and they get lost when heated in water.
- Vitamin C : Is highly water soluble. 50% or more of the vitamin C can be lost during boiling.
- Vitamin B : We lose 60 % of vitamin B like thiamin, niacin when the meat is simmered and the juices come out. However, consuming the liquid helps us to retain the vitamins and minerals.
- Omega3 Fatty acid : Boiling fish preserves Omega3 fatty acid compared to grilling or frying.
- Cruciferous Vegetables : Goitrogen content found in these vegetables are harmful for people suffering from thyroid. Boiling is the best way to decrease this content from such vegetables.
- Oxalates : Boiling removes oxilates, an anti-nutrient which contributes to kidney stone.
- Vitamin A, D, E, K and antioxidant : These are fat soluble compound and are called carotenoid. These nutrients get absorbed more into our body by boiling. For instance Carrot gives us more carotenoid when boiled, however polyphenols disappear once boiled.
Hence, it is advisable to take both raw and cooked form of these vegetables. You should always consume the liquid where you boil the vegetables.
2. Grilling or Broiling :
These are very popular means of cooking since they infuse great flavor to the food. Both grilling and broiling uses dry heat to cook food. In grilling, the heat comes from below while in broiling heat comes from above.
Non-vegetarian food :
Grilling produces two very harmful compounds like HCAs (heterocyclic amines) and PAHs (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons) which leads to cancer. These are mostly produced when the fatty meat is in direct contact with the smoke or flame of the grill and the fat or the liquid drops on a very hot surface. We can decrease the risk by the following options:
- Marinate to form a barrier.
- Go for leaner cut thereby reducing the fat dripping down the grill
- Cook at low temperature, avoid flare ups and overcooking.
- Pre cook to spend less time grilling.
- Keep flipping without piercing.
Vegetarian food :
Grilling is a great option for fruits and vegetables to preserve the nutrient.
3. Baking or Roasting :
This refers to cooking in an oven with dry heat. Baking and roasting are the same thing.The term ‘roasting’ is generally used for meat while the term ‘baking’ is used for cake, muffins, bread or similar items.Convection ovens use fans to push heated air around the inside of the oven, heating the whole environment to cook food evenly.
High heat destroys some vitamins. However it also destroys some of the unfriendly micro organism, making it more nutritional. Baking makes the protein in meats and eggs easier to digest.
4. Cooking in a Microwave :
Microwave is a form of electromagnetic field. It uses waves of energy to vibrate the water molecules (and other molecules which are electrically asymmetrical) inside the food resulting in production of thermal energy i.e., heat. Microwave ovens or microwave conventions include turntables or mirrored walls to circulate the radiation evenly,cooking the food in its own heat.
Cooking in a microwave is a debatable topic now. Since the best form of cooking is something which is done quickly. Microwave claims to preserve the nutrients.
However, cooking for a longer period of time has adverse health effect. It changes the amino acid found in milk and cereals to carcinogenic compound. Besides, it decreases our red blood cells and increases the white blood cells. Japanese studies claim that microwaving food reduces the nutritional value by 60-90% and robs off Vitamin B, C and E.
Give special attention to the container since plastic and paper adds toxic elements to the food.
4. Frying :
Frying takes lesser time.This helps in retention of most of the heat-sensitive vitamins, such as the B-complex group, vitamin C, minerals and protein. Dietary fiber of potato increases because of formation of resistant starch.
However, fat soluble vitamins are lost because of high heat. Even though the cooking oil is a good source of Vitamin E, repeated use of the oil results in oxidation and reduces Vitamin E. Apart from these, polyunsaturated fatty acids gets lost leading to empty calories. This leads to high cholesterol and heart diseases.
As long as these food are safe to eat, try consuming them in a variety of ways.Eat them raw and cook them in a way that will reduce the nutrient loss to a minimum.
So what is your way of consuming your food ? Please share your views in the comment section !
Click here to find out different nutrients a woman needs during different stages of her life.
Click here to find out all you need to know about your cup of coffee.