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Don't send nutrients down the drain.

Don't send nutrients down the drain No matter how careful you are, cooking of any kind destroys some nutrients. The total amount lost will depend on the freshness of the food to begin with (and how it was handled and stored before you bought it), how long you cook it and at what temperature, and how much surface area is exposed to water and air. Certain nutrients are more likely to be destroyed by heat than others--vitamin C, for instance, and B vitamins such as thiamine and riboflavin. Others, including most vitamins and some minerals, are likely to leach into cooking water.

Here are a few guidelines to help you prepare foods--especially vegetables and fuits--so that they stay as nutritious as possible:

* Cook foods for the shortest time possible. Microwaving, steaming, and stir-frying are the quickest methods. Covering a pot or pan will help cut cooking time.

* Cook vegetables whole and unpeeled whenever possible--or eat them raw. Avoid buying precut produce.

* Never soak fruits and vegetables.

* If you're boiling vegetables, use as little water as you can. Don't place them in the water until it's at a full boil. This will cut down on cooking time. If you use the water from boiling or steaming to make soups and gravies, you'll consume any nutrients that leached away.

* Don't leave cooked food standing at room temperature.

* Cook foods as close to serving as possible.

* To get the most from fresh produce, shop frequently and buy only as much as you'll need in a few days. If the only vegetables and fruits available look wilted or pallid, or if they tend to sit in your refrigerator for a week, you'll be better off with frozen. Frozen fruits and vegetables may retain more vitamin C than fresh produce that has been mishandled in transport or storage or that has sat in the grocery store for days.

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No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1991 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:cooking fruits & vegetables
Publication:The University of California, Berkeley Wellness Letter
Date:May 1, 1991
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