Nutritional Value of Food is Often in the Process


Couple Preparing Food

Recently, you launched a new diet plan in order to lose weight and restore your health. To accomplish these important tasks, you emptied your refrigerator and pantry of common, forbidden foods such as cookies, potato chips, sodas, and ice cream. You replaced these items with real, delicious alternatives including low-fat dairy products, lean meats, fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. If you can relate to this scenario, you’re on the right track. However, in addition to selecting the right foods, you also need to understand how processing affects the nutritional value of the things you eat. 

Much of the food you eat undergoes some form of processing before you pop it into your mouth. Unfortunately, almost all food preparation processes decrease the number of nutrients in foods. Those processes that subject foods to extreme levels of oxygen, heat, and light have the greatest effect on nutrient amounts. Preparing foods with added liquids, such as water, often washes off their health benefiting nutrients. For example, boiled carrots typically contain less potassium, folate, and vitamin C than raw ones. To maximize the nutritional value of your foods at home, strive to:

  • Cook foods that aren’t bruised, scraped, cut, or too ripe
  • Store foods in a dark, cool location
  • Place raw foods into boiling water instead of cold water during the cooking process
  • Utilize the least amount of water necessary during the cooking process
  • Avoid overcooking your food
  • Cook food with the peel on when possible
  • Utilize cooking liquids for gravies, soups, and sauces
  • Avoid using copper utensils
  • Avoid utilizing baking soda to retain the green color of your vegetables
  • Cut raw foods into large pieces when slicing them

Thankfully, not all processing of foods is bad. Actually, some additives found in processed foods like cereal preserve nutrients. For instance, ascorbic acid conserves:

  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin E
  • Folic acid
  • Thiamin 

By learning how the various processes foods undergo affect their nutritional value, you can start making healthier choices today that will positively change your future health.

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