Healthiest Ways to Prepare Veggies

When possible, it's best to eat vegetables in their raw state. But because some veggies shouldn't be eaten raw or may cause stomach issues for people when eaten raw, it's important to know healthy ways to prepare veggies. Studies indicate that steaming and boiling tend to be the best cooking methods; frying, not surprisingly, is the worst. Read on to learn more.


Veggies Grow Up

When we were kids, we all had some adult in our life, whether it was a mother, grandmother, father, or even a teacher, tell us "eat your vegetables and you will grow up to be strong." This phrase could be quite annoying to hear, especially when staring down that plate of cooked cabbage that you disliked so much.
Back then, we didn't understand why we needed to eat vegetables; we just knew they weren't nearly as tasty as the chocolate chip cookies we tried to sneak. As we grew older, we began to understand that vegetables had key nutrients in them that were good for our bodies and helped us stay well. We also realized that there are many different (and delicious!) ways to prepare veggies.
Have you ever wondered what the best way to eat a vegetable is? We aren't talking about the best taste -- we all know cooked corn is better than raw corn -- but nutritionally, what is the best way to cook vegetables to get the most nutrients out of them? There would be no advantage to choking down that cabbage if the nutrients had all been cooked out. Read this article and see if you are getting all you can out of your vegetables.

To Cook or Not to Cook

Eating vegetables raw is by far the best way to get all of the nutrients out of them. But some vegetables shouldn't be eaten raw, and some might not agree with your stomach when eaten raw.
There are many different ways to cook vegetables, and they all affect the nutrients differently. However, there is no universally accepted consensus about which cooking method is best. Several different studies came up with different results. Here are some of the findings:
  • The first group of scientists studied broccoli and red peppers. They concluded that boiling, steaming, and microwaving did not affect vitamin A or vitamin E content significantly, but they did decrease the vitamin C and some minerals in the vegetables.
  • The second study checked a variety of vegetables, including potatoes, peas, carrots, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, and green beans. The nutrients tested for in this study included vitamin E, thiamine, niacin, vitamin B6, folate, and vitamin C. The authors concluded that vitamin C, folate, and thiamine are the nutrients lost in the greatest amounts. They didn't find a specific cooking method that was worse than others. However, they did note that the longer these vegetables were exposed to high temperatures, the more nutrients were lost.
  • Finally, a third study tested the nutrients of broccoli, zucchini, and carrots after being steamed, boiled, or fried. Scientists observed that steaming broccoli does the least damage to the nutrients when compared to frying and boiling. Nutrients in zucchini were preserved best when steamed or boiled, and carrots were best when boiled. Frying does the most damage to all three of these vegetables, leaving the least amount of nutrients in them.
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