It’s no secret that vegetables are packed full of nutrition and we should try to increase our intake as much as possible to help support optimal health. Eating a range of different vegetables is the best way to maximize the number of vitamins and nutrients in your diet, plus it boosts the health and variety of your microbiome. But one thing that we don’t talk about as much is the way that we prepare our vegetables.
The way that you cook vegetables has an impact on their nutritional value and the overall health benefits, so it’s something that you should definitely consider. In some cases, this comes to common sense and if you fry vegetables in a lot of oil, for example, they’re obviously going to be less healthy. But it’s not always that clear cut and many people are losing the nutritional value of their vegetables because of the way that they prepare them. So, what are the healthiest ways to prepare vegetables?
Boiling vegetables to within an inch of their life is the easiest way to strip them of their nutritional value. Although they are still good for you, boiled vegetables lose a lot of their water soluble vitamins and nutrients, so you should aim to steam them instead. As a general rule, limiting the cooking time and the amount of liquid will improve nutritional value, which is why steaming is so helpful. Steamed vegetables also retain their texture and flavor, so they’re much nicer than boiled vegetables.
Gut health is so important to your overall health and we are now just beginning to understand it. The balance of bacteria in your gut needs to be carefully managed and if it isn’t, you may experience digestive issues and gut health is also closely linked to immune and mental health. One of the best ways to introduce more good bacteria into your gut is to eat lots of fermented food, including fermented vegetables. The market for fermented food is growing a lot, so it’s easy to buy. However, you could also consider fermenting your own vegetables by preserving them in salt water for a few weeks. Fermentation is a great way to make your vegetables more interesting and boost your health at the same time.
Cooking vegetables in a thick layer of vegetable oil isn’t the best idea. However, vegetables sautéed in a light layer of virgin coconut oil can boost the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins and improve their flavour too, which is important if you are trying to adopt a plant based diet.
It’s a common misconception that microwaving gets rid of all of the nutrients from your food. In fact, it actually helps to preserve a lot of the vitamins because you don’t use any water, so water soluble vitamins are retained. It also heats the vegetables very quickly, so any vitamins that break down when heated, like vitamin C, are retained.
If you want to get the most out of your vegetables, these are the best cooking and preparation methods to use.