Cooking Tips For Maximizing Nutrients In Fruits And Vegetables
Fruits and vegetables are rich in many nutrients such as fiber, phytonutrients, vitamins and minerals, but did you know that how you cook them can impact their nutrient content? While cooking may decrease some nutrients, it may actually boost others.
Heat sensitive nutrients including B vitamins, vitamin C and folate can be destroyed by high temperatures and long cooking times. Water soluble nutrients such as vitamin C and B12, can dissolve when cooked in water. On the other hand, cooking helps boost the content of lycopene in tomatoes and carotenoids in carrots.
To maximize the nutrients in your fruits and vegetables, follow these tips:
- Instead of boiling fruits and vegetables in water, steam them. Steaming retains most of the nutrients because the fruits and vegetables don't touch the cooking water.
- Microwave your vegetables. The quick cooking time helps heat-sensitive nutrients stay in your food.
- Cut vegetables that need to be cooked longer into larger pieces. With fewer surfaces exposed, fewer vitamins are lost.
- Cook fruits and vegetables just until crisp-tender. Avoiding over-cooking will not only improve taste and help retain the foods bright colors but will also help them hold onto their nutrients.
- Cook fruits and veggies in a covered pot to keep steam from escaping and shorten cooking time.
- When you do cook vegetables in water, save and freeze the liquid for soups, stews and sauces. That water can contain water-soluble vitamins and minerals that you don't want to throw away.
- Clean thick-skinned fruits and vegetables well with a soft brush and water. Soaking them as you wash could cause some vitamins to dissolve in the water.
- In addition to enjoying raw tomatoes and carrots, chop them up and add to soups or pasta sauces.