The nutrient content of food is influenced by how it is cooked. Some methods increase the bioavailability of nutrients, while others do the opposite. So, choose the ideal method for cooking, especially if you are aiming for a balanced diet. This is especially important in plant-based food preparation as many of the nutrients naturally found in them are heat sensitive. Some of the key nutrients found in plant-based foods are vitamins C, A, and minerals like calcium, potassium, and magnesium. Read on to know how cooking methods affect nutrient content in foods.
Cooking And Nutrient Content
Cooking makes food easily digestible and increases the absorption of nutrients. However, it reduces the content of some vitamins and minerals. Listed below are the major types of nutrients found in foods.
- Water-Soluble Vitamins: vitamin C and B vitamins
- Fat-Soluble Vitamins: Vitamins A, D, E, and K
- Minerals: Calcium, magnesium, sodium, and potassium
Boiling, Poaching, And Simmering
Boiling, poaching, and simmering are water-based methods of cooking, and the main difference between them is the temperature. Plant-based food like spinach, lettuce, and broccoli are good sources of vitamin C. Boiling them reduces their vitamin C content significantly, i.e., up to 50%. That said, water-based cooking has little effect on omega-3 fats.
Broiling And Grilling
In broiling and grilling, dry heat is used for cooking food. In broiling, the heat source is from above; in grilling, the heat source is from below. This method is popular because it preserves the flavor of foods.
Microwaving is a convenient, safe, and easy method for cooking plant-based food without much loss in nutrients. This is because of the short cooking time that reduces the exposure to heat. However, 20 to 30% of vitamin C in vegetables is lost when they are microwaved.
Baking And Roasting
Baking and roasting are cooking methods that use dry heat inside an oven. The loss of vitamin C in vegetables due to roasting is minimum.
Stir-Frying And Sautéing
In this method of cooking, vegetables are cooked in a saucepan in a small amount of oil or butter over medium to high heat. Stir-frying uses a high temperature and has a shorter cooking time. It increases the absorption of beta carotene in carrots. However, it reduces the vitamin C content of red cabbage and broccoli.
Frying involves cooking food in large amounts of oil at high temperatures. Often, vegetables are coated in a batter before frying them. Besides, it preserves the vitamin C in them and increases the fiber content of potatoes.
Steaming is the best method to cook vegetables as it preserves most of the water-soluble vitamins in them.
These are some of the important points that you must know about methods of plant-based food preparation.