Happy Herbivore Blog

Food Nutrient Loss When Cooking

Posted by: Courtney Hardy |

Category: FAQ

Hi Herbies, it's me Courtney again. While Lindsay is traveling, I thought I would write another post on nutrition and cooking. Is there a way to cook vegetables without losing nutrients? I found that there is no clear cut answer to this, as it depends on the vegetable and the cooking method.

While there is no doubt that some nutrients are lost when cooking vegetables, it doesn't neccessarily mean that eating them raw is better for you. Actually, some food is better to be eaten cooked, such as garlic and onions. 

Garlic and onions are both part of the Allium family, which have sulphur-containing compounds. When cooked with high heat, like simmering, there is wider variety of these compounds available. This is an example of how more nutrients become available when vegetables are cooked, since they wouldn't have been available if the garlic or onions were eaten raw. 

I'm not saying that there is not any nutrient loss when cooking garlic and onions, but that there are nutrients that become avaiable to be absorbed after being cooked. These nutrtients would be lost if eating the garlic and onions raw since we can't absorb them.

There are many different ways to cook vegetables, such as baking, steaming, or boiling. The only common factors among the types of cooking seem to be that more heat, more water, and more time equal more nutrient loss.

For example, carrots that are cooked in boiling water would have less nutrients than if they were steamed. Although, if you use the boiling water that you cooked vegetables in to make soup, the nutrient loss of the vegetables is not really lost since we eat the soup, liquid and all.

Lightly cooking vegetables, using as little heat, water and time as necessary, will cause the least amount of nutrient loss. Steaming is a great way to achieve this, since the vegetables are not submerged in water and steaming is usually a quick way to cook. Although vegetables can be overcooked in a steamer, which would mean more nutrients are lost.

Even 30 seconds of steaming can cause nutrient loss, there is no way to avoid losing some nutrietnst when cooking. There is no hard and fast rule to follow, other than the least amount of time, heat, and water is the best for lessening the amount of nutrients lost when cooking.

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