How to Cook, Store, Process Food
How you prepare your food can have a serious impact on the nutritional value of your fruits and vegetables. Most of us aren't ready to take up an all-raw food diet, so the more we know about food processing the better decisions we can make. What impact does processing have on the nutritional value of fruits and vegetables?
- Freezing. Across all methods of preparation, freezing preserves the most nutritional quality. The most impacted vitamin is Vitamin C with a 30 percent nutrient loss when compared to raw foods. While this seems significant, it is less of an impact than other methods. Minerals are not significantly impacted.
- Drying. Drying foods makes them more energy dense but it greatly impacts the nutritional value of the foods. Most vitamins and minerals are reduced by 50 percent: Vitamin A, Lycopene, Beta Carotene, and Folate. Vitamin C is reduced by 80 percent. This is the best method when it comes to preserving minerals like calcium, potassium, and iron are unaffected by drying.
- Boiling Stovetop. This method is the most detrimental to nutritional value. The cooking liquid, usually water, leaches vitamins and minerals from the raw food. In some cases, certain vitamins and minerals are reduced by 75 percent. You can always use the bone or vegetable broth to make a quick soup, stew or sauce.
What can you do if you are concerned about your food's nutritional content?
- Consume fruits and vegetables in their natural state as often as you like.
- Avoid overcooking vegetables; cook them just as much as necessary as you like them for consumption.
- Remember that frozen veggies are a better choice than their high-heat canned counterparts.
- Save cooking water to add to soups or stews.
Some foods are great raw. Leafy greens in salads, crunchy carrots and cabbage in homemade slaw, and veggie strips in hummus are just a few ways to enjoy raw vegetables in their most perfect nutritional state.
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