We all know that vegetables are loaded with a plethora of important nutrients and that they should be on your plate or in your sandwich with every meal. But equally important is ensuring that the vegetables you eat are prepared in a way that doesn’t deplete them of their important nutrients. Unfortunately, some cooking methods can strip vegetables of their nutritional value. So make sure to follow these guidelines when preparing vegetables:
- If possible, eat them raw. “Basically, uncooked vegetables are the richest in vital substances," says Silke Restemeyer, a nutritionist in Germany.
- If you would like to cook your vegetables, you can best preserve their nutritional value by steaming or cooking them in their own juices or with just a little bit of water, wine or broth, at a lower temperature only until the vegetables are al dente. Steaming them at a high heat for too long will deplete them of their nutrients.
- If you would rather not steam your veggies, another way to preserve their nutrients is to cook them in hot oil in a skillet or wok until they are al dente.
- Yet another nutrient-preserving preparation method is to marinate the vegetables and then grill them or roast them in the oven for 30 minutes, said Carsten Voigt of an association for cooks in Germany. "These methods are equally as protective of the nutrients and you obtain a delicious roasted flavor," he said.
- Avoid slow cooking in a lot of liquid at high temperatures - 75 to 95 degrees Celsius - and simmering. Shorter cooking times mean fewer vitamins are lost compared with longer cooking times, said Voigt. Cooking experts also recommend using as little liquid as possible because the more liquid in the pot, the greater amount of minerals lost.
- Don’t cut vegetables in really small pieces, and don’t peel them. According to Voigt, the skins often contain the most nutrients, not to mention the most flavor!
- Finally, eat the vegetables when they’re at their ripest, and be sure to store them in a cool, dry dark place to maintain optimal freshness until you’re ready to eat them.
How do you ensure you get y our daily requirement of vegetables?