If you thought that getting fresh and healthy food was an accomplished goal to become healthy, I am terribly sorry to say that it’s not enough. Apparently, the cooking methods you use, the storage, the time you keep the food before you eat it and some other factors might strongly influence the nutritional benefits of the contents. Don’t hate us, we don’t make the rules!
Depending on every nutrient’s nature and specific characteristics, a number of influences such as heat, light, oxygen, pH or a combination of these, can modify the food’s original nutritional value. Things can get a little confusing when it comes to these things so let’s try to keep it simple and set up a few general tips that will help you when preparing food.
While cooking assists in turning minerals into “available” nutrients for the body (it’s scientifically called “bioavailability”), it can be also be the main cause of nutrient loss. Cooking methods that don’t use water allow greater retention of vitamins. The more water quantity you use, the greater the loss. It’s good to know though, that the vitamins don’t get destroyed but extracted to the water, if you find a way to use that water- in a soup or sauce for instance- you can still keep the nutritional value. Another general tip when cooking is keeping an eye on time and temperature. As many nutrients are susceptible to heat the less time and temperature we use when cooking, the better.
When cooking meat you need to consider that the less time and temperature the less B group vitamins it will lose. The size of the cut counts, small cuts need less cooking time and that helps to retain more nutrients, so the smaller the better. Keep this in mind when cooking; something as easy as cutting the meat in correct portions can improve its nutritional value.
Experts have shown that poaching is the smartest method to cook fish, followed by grilling and frying. Apparently baking can cause up to a 30% loss in certain nutritious benefit . Time to get familiar with some yummy poached fish recipes!
In the case of fruits and vegies, there are many nutrients present in this group – such as ascorbic acid – which are extremely susceptive to heat and oxidation, which occurs when the surface is exposed, so the greater the exposed surface, the lower retention of nutrients.
When freezing any animal or vegetable food the temperature should ideally be of or at least -18°C, however most freezers don’t allow this temperature to be reached. Additionally, the losses will be bigger the longer the storage time. . Keep this in mind when food shopping and planning your menus. If you have the choice, use your frozen food within a short period!
For meats it’s important to freeze large cuts when possible – the opposite of cooking it! And for veggies it will help to seal them with a minimum amount of surrounding air and place them in moisture proof wraps.
Fruit and vegetables are at their best nutritional condition when they’re fresh. If you keep them too long in the refrigerator they will quickly deteriorate, so making a good shopping plan sounds like the key for healthy food storage. Milk is another item to consider, as it’s sensitive to light and oxygen exposure it needs to be consumed shortly after purchase
Next time you take home some yummy healthy food make sure to keep and cook it in the best possible way to enjoy all its nutritional value!
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