Can the way a food is cooked, change it’s nutritional value?

By Daryl Jones, Bachelor of Science, Nutrition - SYA Coach

Question: Can the way a food is cooked, change it’s nutritional value?

The short answer to this question is yes. The longer answer is also yes and here is a little more info. When food is cooked you are changing it’s chemical composition. The way that you cook it can cause the food to lose vitamins and nutrients.

Let’s look at some methods:

Raw

For fruits and vegetable, the best way to not change anything.

Boiling, simmering, and poaching

These are all water-based methods of cooking and will affect water soluble vitamins and minerals more than others. When we cook vegetables like broccoli for example it can lose up to 50% of it’s vitamin C content. While this is disappointing if you like boiled foods, the good news is that if you are making soup and you like the broth, you can recover most if not all the lost nutrition.

Grilling and broiling

For vegetables not much of anything will be lost. For meat, up to 40% of B vitamins can be lost in the drippings. A bigger concern about grilling are PAHs (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, which are potentially cancer-causing substances. 

Microwaving

Not much of an affect on food except for vitamin C. Green vegetables can lose 20-30% of vitamin C.

Roasting and baking

Not much of an affect here either on most foods. If you are cooking meats for long periods of time you can lose up to 40% of B vitamins. 

Sauteing and stir-frying

This can increase the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins but can decrease vitamin C in vegetables. 

Frying

Fried foods are very popular, they taste great. They are not the most nutritious way to eat. What you fry your food in can also affect the nutrition of your meal. A concern is that when oils are heated to high temperatures for extended periods of time aldehydes can be formed. Aldehydes have been linked to cancer. 

Steaming

While not very exciting and sometimes bland depending how you season your food, steaming is one of the best ways to preserve vitamins and nutrients in your food. 

Here are 10 tips to reduce nutrient loss while cooking:

  1. Use as little water as possible when poaching or boiling.

  2. Consume the liquid left in the pan after cooking vegetables.

  3. Add back juices from meat that drip into the pan.

  4. Don’t peel vegetables until after cooking them. Better yet, don’t peel at all to maximize their fiber and nutrient density.

  5. Cook vegetables in smaller amounts of water to reduce the loss of vitamin C and B vitamins.

  6. Try to eat any cooked vegetables within a day or two, as their vitamin C content may continue to decline when the cooked food is exposed to air.

  7. Cut food after — rather than before — cooking, if possible. When food is cooked whole, less of it is exposed to heat and water.

  8. Cook vegetables for only a few minutes whenever possible.

  9. When cooking meat, poultry, and fish, use the shortest cooking time needed for safe consumption.

Our daughter is not a big fan of kale and some other nutrient rich vegetables. She is however a fan of soups. I like to make this soup because it gets kale into her diet and that is a good thing.

Chickpea Noodle Soup

2 tsp olive oil or ¼ cup water

1 yellow onion, chopped

¼- ½ cup carrots sliced

2 celery ribs, sliced

4 cloves garlic minced (or more, I love garlic)

1 tsp dried basil (1 Tbl fresh)

1 tsp dried thyme (1 Tbl fresh)

8 cups vegetable broth

4 oz green beans cut to your liking

4 cups chopped, stemmed kale

3 cups cooked garbanzo beans (2 15 oz cans drained and rinsed)

1 15oz can diced tomatoes and the juice (1.5 cups fresh)

Salt and Pepper

6 oz uncooked linguine broken or another pasta to your liking

1 cup frozen or fresh peas


Cook

  1. Heat the oil or water in a soup pot of medium heat. Add the onion and cook for 2-3 minutes. Add the carrots and celery and cook for additional 3 minutes, until everything has softened, and the onions are translucent. Add the garlic and cook for a minute. Add basil, thyme, and broth and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes.

  2. Add the green beans, kale, garbanzo beans, and tomatoes. Season with the S&P. Simmer for about 20 minutes.

  3. Add the pasta and peas. Simmer until the pasta is ready 10-15 minutes.

  4. Eat it

I hope you like it if you try it. If you have any questions, comments, or concerns please feel free to reach out at jonesdarylh@gmail.com  

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