The method in which we store, prepare and cook our foods may affect the level of vitamins and minerals available.
Many vitamins are susceptible to damage through heat, air, moisture and light. Minerals are generally more stable, but can also be diminished through cooking processes.
So, what can we do to make the most of the nutrition in our food?
When it comes to fruits and vegetables-fresh, frozen or canned are all excellent nutritional choices. Frozen fruit and vegetables retain their vitamins and minerals well due to the freezing process. Canning procedures have also become much more efficient in recent years, with a higher percentage of nutrients now being retained. Of course, it’s important to keep in mind purchasing canned fruits and vegetables that are packed in water is a healthier alternative to those canned in syrups or high sodium mixtures.
With fresh fruits and vegetables, it is recommended to buy often and in small amounts. Ensure that you keep fruits and vegetables cool, and aim to eat them within a few days. The longer they remain in storage, the more their nutritional value may gradually decrease. It is also important to consider the vibrancy of the colour of the fruits and vegetables that you are purchasing. Bright red, bright orange and dark green vegetables tend to have a higher concentration of specific vitamins and minerals.
If you enjoy cutting your own fruit, it’s best to slice in large chunks, rather than tiny slices-as there will be less surface area of the fruit exposed to air. It is also helpful to avoid peeling wherever possible, as the level of vitamins tends to be highly concentrated under the skin. Once these vitamins are exposed to air after peeling, they may become diminished.
For dairy products, especially milk in particular-it is important to avoid sun exposure, as sunlight destroys the B vitamin riboflavin.
In terms of preparation, avoid allowing cut vegetables to be exposed to air, heat or light for an extended period of time. Do not soak vegetables before cooking, as water may leach important vitamins and minerals. Never use bicarbonate of soda to keep vegetables green, as this will completely destroy vitamin C.
It is best to cook vegetables for the minimum amount of time required, in order to reduce the amount of nutrients lost. Steaming, stir-frying and microwaving are all excellent cooking methods-which are often used to retain vitamins. If you are boiling vegetables, use the minimum amount of water possible and introduce the vegetables directly into the hot water, using a tight fitting lid to cover them. Once food is cooked, try to eat as soon as possible (without leaving it sitting on the burner for too long), as excessive heat may also be damaging to the nutritional quality of food.
Post by: Nora Heighton
Photo Credit: www.uhta8216.ru