We talk about how nutrients change when cooking to find out what is the most suitable cooking method to preserve them
Eat more vegetables, eat healthy foods, avoid processed foods ... all of them are phrases that in recent years have been repeated in our heads as a mantra. We are all clear that this is what we should try to do.
But beware, cooking is a way of processing food and depending on the method used to cook it is possible that the effort that some make to eat, for example, the vegetables they do not like, may not be as good as they think.
And it is that food is transformed as we submit it to the different cooking methods.
To a greater or lesser extent, temperatures and techniques used in the kitchen cause both vegetables and other foods to undergo changes that can become quite significant both in terms of calories and nutrient content.
Food cooking methods
· Roast in the oven: For dough, vegetables, meat, poultry and fish. It is cooked in an oven and sometimes with oil and / or steam.
· Grilling: For vegetables, tender meats, poultry, fish and seafood. On a griddle with very little oil.
· Blanch: Generally, for vegetables. In a pot of boiling water for up to 3 minutes.
· Steam blanching: For vegetables. In a steamer over a pot of boiling water and no more than 3 minutes.
· Braise: For meat, poultry and vegetables such as tomatoes, zucchini, aubergines or peppers. It is made with oil and a small amount of liquid in a covered pot.
· Steaming: To cook meat, vegetables, fish, poultry and rice. It is done by placing the food on a rack that rests over a pot of boiling water.
· Pressure cooking: For cooking legumes, some hard vegetables, meat and rice. It is done in water plus oil and in a pressure cooker.
· Confit: For meat, fish and vegetables. It is cooked in a covered pot for a long period of time and in a large quantity of oil.
· Deep frying - shallow fry -: For fish, eggs, some hard vegetables and meat. Oil is used and it is made in a pan.
· Frying - deep fry -: For vegetables, fish and lean meat batters. Also, for potatoes, croquettes, dumplings, fritters and similar doughs. It takes a lot of oil and a deep fryer.
· Stew: For meat, vegetables and poultry. Oil is used, liquids such as water, wine or beer and it is made in a covered pot over low or moderate heat.
· Boil: It is used for meat, eggs, pasta, rice and vegetables. It is done in water and in a saucepan.
· Microwave: Especially for cooking vegetables and it is done in a microwave oven with very little water or oil.
· Pochar: It is used for fish and eggs. It is done in water and in a saucepan.
· Saute - stir fry -: It is used for vegetables, meat and fish. With little oil and the wok or frying pan.
Changes in food due to cooking
The fact of subjecting a food to a heat treatment will produce a series of changes that, if the chosen cooking technique is adequate, will always be positive changes although part of the nutrients may be lost in the process.
Advantages of cooking food
· It makes food digest better, therefore its nutrients are better used.
· In the case of some foods, such as beans, cooking is essential to eliminate toxic substances.
· It improves the sanitary guarantees of food as long as the cooking is carried out during the correct times and temperatures.
How food physically changes when you cook it
When cooking food, they not only change from the point of view of their chemical composition, but other parameters such as color, flavor, volume or texture also change.
For example, the flavor can be attenuated when we cook a food for a long time in a large amount of water or it can intensify when the food is cooked in some fat.
The volume may decrease due to the loss of water or fat during cooking, or it may increase in the case of dehydrated foods that are rehydrated thanks to immersion in the cooking liquid.
How Nutrients Change When Cooking Food
In general, the nutrients in foods are classified into carbohydrates, fats, proteins, vitamins and minerals, and cooking does not affect all of them in the same way.
· Carbohydrates: these are the most stable nutrients when cooking, regardless of the type of cooking.
· Fats: fats increase when using a cooking method that involves the use of fats, it is not news, by now everyone knows that a fried food has more calories than steamed. In addition, if certain temperatures are exceeded, the fats can burn and give off unpleasant tastes and odors.
· Proteins: in general, cooking makes proteins more digestive, especially in the case of legumes and meats.
· Vitamins: they are usually the most affected when food is cooked, since with some cooking processes they can be completely lost. Water-soluble vitamins - which can be dissolved in water - like C, are lost in water if we choose cooking methods such as boiling. Fat-soluble vitamins - which only dissolve in fats - are easily degraded when subjected to very high temperatures, such as that of the grill plate.
· Minerals: they are stable against temperature, but it happens like water-soluble vitamins, which dissolve in water, so they are lost when food is cooked in water.
Which cooking method best conserves nutrients
As we have already seen in the previous section, although when the doctor recommends eating healthier to someone and suggests eating everything cooked or grilled and we have always had in mind that cooking was the healthiest, in reality it is not the best method Well, we have already seen that, unless you also drink the water to cook the vegetables, it is not the method that will preserve the most nutrients.
To know in detail how cooking affects the nutrients of a food, in 2013, a couple of scientists from the University of Cairo, studied in depth the nutrients of a cauliflower both raw, and after subjecting it to different types of cooking such as such as water and steam blanching, steaming and pot of water, microwave cooking and sautéing.
The result of this study, allowed to prove that the methods that best conserve nutrients are steam bleaching, steam cooking, microwave - in which contrary to what many people think, nutrients are not lost as cooking They are made in a very short time and without the need to immerse the food in an aqueous medium- and sauté at high temperature with a small amount of oil typical of Asian cuisine.
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