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What's the Best Cooking Method?

What's the Best Cooking Method?

At dinner time, when you're holding an arm full of vegetables, do you ever wonder which cooking method is best so that you preserve the most nutrients? This is a frequently asked question. Thanks to a study conducted by a group of food scientists, we now have some answers. The study was entitled: Influence of Cooking Methods on Antioxidant Activity of Vegetables. Some cooking methods were definitely worse than others. But, would it surprise you to find out that in many cases the answer actually depends on what you are cooking?

Dr. Michael Greger narrows down the best cooking methods in the video below. Although we do have a caveat here: Lightly steaming is generally the best way to cook vegetables, but steaming was NOT one of the methods used for this test. The methods compared were baking, boiling, frying, griddling, microwaving and pressure cooking.

The most antioxidants were lost when vegetables were boiled. Antioxidants were also lost through pressure cooking. Frying should be avoided due to the extra calories from fat and endothelial cell damage caused by oils. So, should we never boil or use pressure cookers? The answer is that while there was some nutrient loss from these methods, they still remain decent ways to cook our vegetables.

Perhaps the greatest surprise of this study was that the method of cooking which best preserved antioxidants in vegetables was actually microwaving - which, on average, preserved 97.3% of the antioxidants. That makes the microwave a lot less scary than many people believe. In fact, I personally have two microwaves at home and two at work. They help with my very busy schedule.

Interestingly, this study noted that bell peppers lost antioxidants with every cooking method, while artichokes, beets and onions were not affected by cooking at all and asparagus was only effected negatively by frying. Green beans increased in antioxidant value in all cooking methods except for boiling and pressure cooking. Carrots and celery both increased in antioxidant values however they were cooked. This is great news for those of us who love a good hearty vegetable soup. The real take home message though is to just make sure to eat plenty of vegetables!

For more information, see:

(1) Raw Food Nutrient Absorption

(2) Which is Better, Raw or Cooked Broccoli?

(3) Raw Food Diet Myths

Michael Greger MD Links

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