Our health is basically what we eat , and the things which we normally eat are the compositions of different nutrients which provides several benefits to our body and system. The nutrient composition of the food start to change as soon as the fruits and vegetables are plucked off from the plant . Similarly there are chemical changes in meat and meat products when they are left for some time without processing. Nutrients loss is the effect of almost all cooking techniques, also the food items are subject to nutrient loss as a result of our washing, pealing and cutting techniques.
The basic of aim of preparing food therefore should be , is to preserve maximum nutrients along with making it palatable.
Below are some basic handling and cooking techniques and their effects on nutrients
Fruit and vegetables are more subject to nutrient loss during washing as compared to meat because of the large quantity of water soluble vitamins present in them. However washing fruits and vegetables prior to cooking in running water is extremely important in order to remove all the pesticides and contaminants which are responsible for numerous food Borne illnesses. Below are some basic tips, one should keep in mind prior to washing vegetables and fruits for consumption.
- Always select fresh fruits and vegetables free from bruises, moulds and any signs of damage.
- Soaking vegetables in water for longer period of time causes more vitamin loss. However those vegetables which are consumed with skin are needed to be soaked for sometimes in warm water to remove contaminants and pesticides.
- Wash fruit and vegetable just before consumption.
Cutting and pealing.
Below are some essential tips to consider before preparing foods for cooking
- Lean cut meats are more nutritious as compared to the full fat meat.
- Do not remove skin of those vegetables which can be used with skin as some of the most important nutrients are present in peel or just beneath the peel. For example potato skin is rich in fibre, thiamin ,vitamin B6 and vitamin C, similarly high percentage of lycopene which is an important antioxidants is present in tomato skin and high percentage of minerals are present in tomato seeds.
- Always cut vegetables in larger pieces in order to preserve maximum vitamins.
Excessive heat or cooking for longer period of time can destroy and break down almost 15-20 % of vitamins and minerals found in vegetables including vitamin C , thiamine, folic acid, and potassium. Sometimes these cooking methods also provide several health benefits by releasing antioxidants in the food by breaking cell walls. Following are some basic cooking techniques and how small changes can enable you to get maximum nutrients from normal food.
- Boil vegetables in as little water as possible and dry it completely.
- Boil vegetables leftovers with little salt in water to make a tasty vegetables stock.
- Steaming vegetables and fish fillet is another method to lock nutrients within the food.
- Pressure cooking decrease the cooking time and are least destructive to nutrients.
- Grilling marinated meat without adding extra fat is one way of getting maximum nutrients along with great taste. However researches suggests that excess use of charred meats may increases the risk of pancreatic or breast cancer. For this reason it is advisable to use lean cut meats for barbecue , as it require less time for cooking.
- Stir frying vegetables and meat at high temperature with small amount of fat also helps to keep nutrients intact due to short cooking time.