As COVID-19 is spreading like a wildfire, it is important to focus on what you can do to boost your immune system. Until a vaccine is available to fight the deadly novel coronavirus, your immune system is the only shield against it. The immune system is the body’s defence force against disease-causing bacteria, viruses and other organisms.
To build a strong immune system, it is important to have a healthy gut. This is because the more the good bacteria in your gut, the better your immune system will be. There are certain foods that can help increase the good bacteria in the gut and boost your immune system. Veggies are a good source of fibre, vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients that can boost your immune system. But how you cook your vegetables can alter their nutritional content. For example, cooking veggies for too long at high temperatures, or with too much water can not only make them tasteless but also take away a lot of their nutrients. Specially, water-soluble vitamins (vitamin C, B1, B2, B3 and folate) can leach out of the vegetables and into the cooking water. Minerals such as calcium, potassium, iron, zinc, can also be leached out when you cook veggies for too long.
Therefore, it is important to focus on the cooking method to get the most out of our vegetables. Here are some best techniques to cook vegetables to retain their nutritional value.
This technique is very popular in Asian cooking. By gently cooking your vegetables over the consistent flow of hot, you can retain more water-soluble vitamins in them. As the food is cooked above the liquid, and not in the water, most of the nutrients stay right where they belong, in the food.
Make sure the liquid level is about one or two inches below the food. You may add liquid to the pot as it evaporates. Also, the vegetables you are steaming should have enough room around each piece so that the hot steam can cook everything evenly. Check regularly to make sure the vegetables don’t overcook.
This method of cooking uses a small amount of oil and the vegetables are always cut into similarly bite-sized pieces. The heat beneath the pan must be very high so that the food is cooked in a minimal amount of time. This helps retain a large proportion of the nutrients in the vegetables. You need to keep the food moving using a wooden spatula or shaking the pan itself.
Dry cooking methods such as grilling, roasting and microwaving also help retain a greater amount of nutrients. Since the vegetables don’t come in contact with water, these cooking techniques help retain more vitamins.
No, microwaving doesn’t kill nutrients in vegetables. In fact, it is the best cooking method when it comes to retaining antioxidants. A study published in the Journal of Food Science revealed that microwave cooking helped maintain the highest levels of antioxidants in beans, beets, asparagus, garlic, onion and spinach, compared with boiling, pressure cooking and baking.
If you still prefer to boil your vegetables, save the nutrient-rich cooking water to make soups and sauces.