Cooking foods kills germs, and makes food easier and more enjoyable to eat. Studies also show that cooking can help preserve the antioxidants and organic compounds in certain foods, something that you wouldn’t get if you ate them raw. But food has to go through a lot of steps to get in your stomach, and between how it’s grown, how it’s stored, and how you prepare it, it can lose a certain amount of vitamins and minerals along the way.
Why does this matter?
For healthy pregnancy weight gain, you’ll incorporate as many nutritious foods as possible into your diet, and learning methods to preserve the nutrients in your food can help you get the maximum reward for eating healthy foods.
A nutrient’s solubility describes how quickly or how much it dissolves in a liquid. Some nutrients, like vitamin C, are water-soluble, and dissolve very quickly in water. It’s important to know the solubility of vitamins and minerals because water-soluble nutrients are more likely to break apart and disappear if you prepare them a certain way. And if they’re broken apart, your body won’t be able to absorb these nutrients, so your best bet is to prepare foods in a way that protects their nutrients from dissolving.
No method of preparation is absolutely perfect, but some are better than others when it comes to preserving nutrients. Here are the different types of preparation, ranked in terms of how well the preserve nutrients.
This is the best way to prepare foods and keep their vitamins and minerals. Because steaming requires so little water, water-soluble vitamins – that is, vitamins that dissolve in water – stay in the food and don’t get soaked into the water.
Microwaving is almost as good as steaming, in terms of helping food keep its nutritional quality. It only exposes food to a minimal amount of heat, so fewer nutrients are lost.
Roasting or baking
Only a small amount of nutrients are lost when you roast or bake foods. However, when you roast or bake meat, it can lose up to 40% of its B vitamins.
Frying actually helps to preserve vitamin C and B vitamins. As long as you use a sparing amount of healthy oils, frying can be a healthy way to cook food.
With the exception of broccoli and red cabbage, this type of preparation doesn’t reduce a significant amount of vitamins in food. This is a good way to prepare carrots, in particular, because it increases their amount of beta-carotene.
Grilling or broiling
These aren’t the best methods of preparing food, because juice containing vitamins and minerals drips off the food and is not consumed. Also, grilling and broiling tend to reduce the amount of B vitamins by 40%.
Boiling, simmering, poaching
Unfortunately, if you’re trying to retain the vitamins and minerals in your food, this is the worst way to prepare it. The large amount of water used in the three processes means that a large amount of vitamin C and B vitamins are lost.
There are two positives to this method, though: you can save the nutrient-rich water and use it for broths, and if you’re cooking something with omega-3s, this method will preserve them.
Nutrition and you
As the saying goes, everything in moderation. None of these methods is a bad choice by any means, and if cooking your food a certain way is the only way you’re going to get essential vitamins and minerals, then do what you need to do!
But if you do typically prepare your foods in a way that makes them lose a lot of their nutritional value, consider trying a new method, even if it’s just a trial run to see if you like it. And if you don’t have a preference either way, maybe try to actively use a method that doesn’t decrease nutrients as much as another method. This way you’ll be sure that what you’re eating is full of important nutrients for Baby and you.
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