The Best Cooked Vegetable for Your Health

By , Category : Food and Nutrition

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Do you ever wonder what impact cooking has on the nutrients in your food? After all, if your take the time to make a home-cooked meal, you’ll want to get all the health benefits you can. Here’s some health news that you’ll want to consider before you make that next meal: some cooking methods are more nutrient-friendly than others, according to Spanish researchers.

The researchers, from the Department of Food Science at the University of Murcia, studied the influence of home-cooking methods on the antioxidant activity of vegetables. They covered all the standard cooking methods, which included boiling, microwaving, pressure-cooking, griddling, frying, and baking.

The research team made some interesting discoveries. Artichoke, they found, was the only vegetable that kept its very high free-radical scavenging capacity in all the cooking methods. At the other end of the scale was cauliflower, registering the highest losses of scavenging capacity after boiling and microwaving. Other vegetables high on the nutrients-lost list included peas after boiling, and zucchini after boiling and frying.

Beetroot, green beans, and garlic all did well — according to the research team, they kept their antioxidant activity after most cooking treatments. Swiss chard and pepper, on the other hand, lost scavenging capacity in all the processes. Celery was somewhat unique in that it increased its antioxidant capacity in all the cooking methods, except boiling, when it lost 14%.

The highest losses in all cooking methods occurred in garlic, although microwaving helped to preserve some antioxidant capacity. Green beans, celery, and carrot increased antioxidant power after all cooking methods (except green beans and celery after boiling). However, these three types of vegetables showed a low free-radical scavenging capacity in general compared to some of the other vegetables.

So what is the best cooking method to preserve the antioxidant power of your favorite vegetables? According to the researchers, griddling, microwave cooking, and baking alternately produce the lowest losses, while pressure-cooking and boiling lead to the greatest losses. Frying, it seems, straddled the middle ground when it came to antioxidant loss — not the worst cooking method, or the best either.

You can follow the researchers’ health advice that water is not the best method for cooking vegetables if you want a maximum dose of antioxidants and other nutrients. Try baking or using the microwave in a pinch to boost your nutritional health.

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Dr. Victor Marchione, MD

About the Author, Browse Victor's Articles

Victor Marchione, MD received his Bachelor of Science Degree in 1973 and his Medical Degree from the University of Messina in 1981. He has been licensed and practicing medicine in New York and New Jersey for over 20 years. Dr. Marchione is a respected leader in the field of smoking cessation and pulmonary medicine. He has been featured on ABC News and World Report, CBS Evening News and the NBC Today Show and is the editor of the popular The... Read Full Bio »