How to Retain Maximum Nutrients While Cooking?

You try various methods of cooking like boiling, sauteing, frying, grilling and many other. Everyone
has their own distinctive way of preparing a particular dish. We never notice why one is following
particular steps for cooking as compared to the other. Do you know that more than half of the nutrients in
the vegetables are lost while cooking? And cutting fruits can evaporate a lot of their nutrients! While eating
nutritious food can improve our health and energy levels, the way you cook it can impact the nutritional
value in it. Prolonged exposure to heat and water may cause some foods to lose nutritional value like
vitamin B1, vitamin C, and polyphenols. Ever thought about nutrient losses that may be happen while
cooking? I am sure many of us might be doing the same unknowingly.

Tips which will help you retain nutrients while cooking

  1. During peeling the outer skin of vegetables do peel as thinly as possible. The nutrients in vegetables
    and fruits accumulate just beneath the skin, so peeling before boiling increases the loss of
    Vitamin C, Folic Acid and other B vitamins. The peels of carrot, radish, gourd and ginger can be
    scraped instead of peeling.
  2. Do not cut vegetables into very small cubes as the surface area of vegetable increases that comes in
    contact with oxygen and causes enzymatic browning leads to reduce in the nutrient loss.
  3. Don’t soak vegetables in water to avoid discoloration. Water-soluble vitamins and minerals are lost in
    the water.
  4. Prepare salads of fruits and vegetables just before serving. Serve in closed dishes to avoid excessive exposure to air.
  5. Do not put out the extra water drained after boiling rice or vegetables. When preparing cottage
    cheese, the water left over after curdling (whey) is highly rich in good quality proteins and vitamins
    and should be used up in kneading dough or simply had as a refreshing drink after flavouring with
    lemon juice, salt and pepper.
  6. Do not keep milk open or exposed to light, as a considerable destruction of riboflavin can occur.
  7. Rooty vegetables should be cooked with skins on and then peeled after boiling. This helps the
    nutrients to migrate to the centre of the vegetables, helping better retention of its nutrients.
  8. Avoid deep frying and heating for a long time or heating at a high temperature. If food heats above 70 oC for a long duration, proteins denature. In this form, they do not easily absorb.
  9. Baking soda makes cooking water alkaline and thus helps retain the colour of vegetables as well as
    speed up the cooking process, but it destroys thiamine and vitamin C.
  10. Reheating of food destroys the chemical structure of nutrients and vitamins. Cooked vegetables that reheat after refrigeration for two or three days lose more than half their vitamin C.
  11. The longer the cooking time and the higher the temperature, the more nutrients degrade as most of
    the vitamins are sensitive to heat and air exposure.
Body Builders of Pre-Independence India. Source: Barbell and Muscle Control Exercises, Keshab Sen Gupta and Bishnu Charan Ghosh.
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