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Cook Vegetables without Losing Their Nutrients

Vegetables are a rich source of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber. Although some people advocate eating them raw to obtain most of these nutrients, other experts recommend cooking them properly to soften the fibers and make them more digestible, at the same time retaining their nutritional value.

Cooking vegetables in the microwave is the best way to retain their antioxidant properties, according a Spanish study. However, there is an exception: cauliflower loses most of its antioxidants when cooked by microwave. Another great way to retain nutrients and antioxidant properties is to cook them on a griddle. Use a griddle without the non-stick chemical coating to cook vegetables like green beans, celery and beets.

Baking or roasting is good for retaining antioxidant values in some vegetables like eggplant, artichokes, asparagus, broccoli, green beans, peppers, corn, and spinach, but not for Brussels sprouts, leeks, carrots, cauliflower, zucchini, peas, onions, celery, beets, beans, and garlic.

Frying vegetables not only causes loss of important nutrients (up to 50%), it also adds too much fat to a meal. Another cooking method that leads to loss of nutrients and antioxidants is boiling vegetables in water, according to researcher A.M. Jimenez-Monreal.  An exception to this is that of boiling carrots, where a study from Italy showed that boiling enhanced their carotenoid content compared to steaming or frying.

The same Italian researchers demonstrated that steaming broccoli and zucchini is the best way to preserve their antioxidants. However, to retain fat soluble vitamins in vegetables,  toss them in a small amount of olive oil before serving them to increase nutrient absorption. Sautéing vegetables in a little olive oil is similar to microwaving,  since it minimizes nutrient loss and helps the body absorb more of the nutrients.


Zerbe, L. and Maine, E. How to Cook Vegetables without Zapping Their Nutrients. Rodale.

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