Cooking vegetables helps to soften them and break down the fibrous tissue making them easier to digest. Cooking vegetables increases the body's uptake of some nutrients.
Quick tips on cooking and preparing vegetables
Cooking vegetables helps to soften them and break down the fibrous tissue making them easier to digest. Cooking vegetables increases the body’s uptake of some nutrients, for example, improving the absorption of beta-carotene in carrots and sweet potatoes and lycopene in tomatoes. Cooking vegetables also aids in elimination. On the other hand, raw vegetables can be healthier as cooking can destroy heat sensitive nutrients like vitamin C especially if we pour off the vegetable water. That is why a 50/50 mix is ideal, but can vary based on individual preferences and health considerations.
- Wash all vegetables and dry if appropriate before use.
- When in doubt microwave your vegetables for maximum antioxidant preservation.
- Exception: Keep cauliflower out of the microwave as it will lose more than 50 percent of its antioxidants.
- Many people are pleasantly surprised by the amazing transformation that takes place when grilling their vegetables. Vegetables caramelize when grilled giving them a crispy sweetness. Get yourself a grill pan and you can grill vegetables year round.
- Baking or roasting vegetables can be hit or miss in that some are better baked and roasted and some are not due to loss of antioxidants. The best vegetables to bake and still retain their antioxidant values include: artichokes, asparagus, broccoli, peppers, green beans, eggplant, corn, Swiss chard and spinach. Baking is also appropriate for winter squash, potatoes, sweet potatoes and beets.
- Generally speaking do not use this method if you want to retain antioxidants in your vegetables. Peas, cauliflower and zucchini are particularly susceptible to losing nutrients through boiling. Be sure to save the boiling liquid if you do boil your vegetables consider making a vegetable stock with the vegetable water to use in a vegetable soup.
Take the vegetable challenge
Pick a new-to-you vegetable from our Profile grocery list and use it. Incorporate it into your meal and if you find you do not really care for it, try it a few times as tastes do develop over time with increased consumption. For more vegetable ideas, try cookbooks, magazines, profileplan.net and myplate.gov.