The best way to cook vegetables without losing nutrients

by Jennifer Bowden / 04 August, 2018
RelatedArticlesModule - Best way to cook vegetables

Photo/Getty Images

Many people say that steaming vegetables is healthier and more nutritious than boiling them, but is it true?

Overboiled cabbage is the stuff of kids’ nightmares. But before we throw the cabbage out with the cooking water, is boiling vegetables really that much worse than steaming them?

Vegetables are a readily available source of dietary fibre, vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals that function as antioxidants, phytoestrogens and anti-inflammatory agents and benefit our health in many ways. So, when eating vegetables, we clearly want to absorb as many of those nutrients as possible.

The fibre and fat-soluble vitamins in vegetables, such as vitamin A and E, generally aren’t greatly affected by boiling or steaming. The bioavailability of some nutrients, such as the lycopene found in tomatoes and the beta-carotene in carrots, may actually improve with cooking.

However, vegetables also contain water-soluble vitamins and phytochemicals. And it’s these nutrients that are readily lost through leeching when vegetables are boiled.

Chinese researchers studied the effect on the nutrient content of broccoli of steaming, microwaving, boiling, stir-frying, and stir-frying followed by boiling. They found all cooking treatments, except steaming, caused significant vitamin C losses. Steaming also reduced losses of glucosinolates – the sulphur-containing compounds found in broccoli that are credited with protecting us from cancer and cardiovascular disease.

So, yes, steaming is preferable to boiling for retaining nutrients. However, many variables can affect cooked vegetables’ nutrient content, including cooking time, the amount of water used, how the vegetables are cut and their type.

However you cook your veges, keep them as intact as possible, and if you’re boiling or microwaving them, use as little water as possible.

This article was first published in the July 21, 2018 issue of the New Zealand Listener.

Latest

The new robotic surgery helping vaginal mesh removal
108377 2019-07-19 00:00:00Z Health

The new robotic surgery helping vaginal mesh remov…

by Ruth Nichol

Women with complications caused by deeply embedded vaginal mesh are being aided by a pioneering surgical technique.

Read more
A beautiful mind: What people with Alzheimer's can teach us
108544 2019-07-19 00:00:00Z Health

A beautiful mind: What people with Alzheimer's can…

by Fergus Riley

North Auckland farmer Fergus Riley has uncovered many important lessons in caring for his father Peter, who has Alzheimer’s.

Read more
When biodegradable plastic is not actually biodegradable
108562 2019-07-19 00:00:00Z Planet

When biodegradable plastic is not actually biodegr…

by Isabel Thomlinson

A study on biodegradable plastic bags found they were still intact after three years spent either at sea or buried underground.

Read more
Brexit-torn England needs the Cricket World Cup more than we do
108521 2019-07-18 10:26:20Z World

Brexit-torn England needs the Cricket World Cup mo…

by The Listener

Amid the agony of defeat, we must remember that the UK is in such terrible shape politically that it deserves to cherish this flickering flame of...

Read more
Trades Hall bombing case re-opened, evidence released
108515 2019-07-18 00:00:00Z Crime

Trades Hall bombing case re-opened, evidence relea…

by RNZ

Caretaker and unionist Ernie Abbott was killed almost instantly when he picked up the suitcase containing the bomb.

Read more
Where to celebrate the Apollo 11 moon landing
108504 2019-07-18 00:00:00Z What's on

Where to celebrate the Apollo 11 moon landing

by The Listener

On the big screen, the small screen, the page or the ceiling, here's where you can toast the 50th anniversary of the moon landing.

Read more
Why we need to plant more native trees than pines
108089 2019-07-18 00:00:00Z Planet

Why we need to plant more native trees than pines

by Jane Clifton

We do need more trees, but native species may be a better long-term choice than pine trees.

Read more
How to eat a New Zealand forest, and other secrets
108277 2019-07-18 00:00:00Z Planet

How to eat a New Zealand forest, and other secrets…

by Sally Blundell

Our native forests provide food and natural medicines, support jobs, hinder erosion and play a major role in climate-change mitigation.

Read more