It’s common knowledge that vegetables are packed with nutrients, vitamins, minerals, and other organic compounds that your body needs. Since childhood, we hear it time and time again, the importance of eating vegetables every day. And people who eat vegetables as part of an overall healthy diet are likely to be at reduced risk for many chronic diseases and illnesses. That’s because vegetables come chock-full of nutrients like:
- Potassium. (Potassium can help to maintain healthy blood pressure).
- Dietary fiber. (Fiber helps reduce blood cholesterol levels and may even lower risk for heart disease).
- Folate/folic acid. (Folic acid helps the body form red blood cells, a necessary component to several aspects of health and well-being).
- Vitamin A. (Vitamin A helps prevent infections while also promoting healthy eyes and skin).
- Vitamin C. (Vitamin C also promotes skin health, helps heal cuts and wounds, keeps teeth and gums healthy, and aids in iron absorption).
Unfortunately, when vegetables are cooked, the process of cooking them reduces their beneficial effects. As a general rule, the more a vegetable is cooked, the more nutrients and potential benefits are lost due to exposure to intense, prolonged heat.
How can one prepare vegetables in an appealing and easily consumable way, but in a way that doesn’t remove their health benefits?
Vegetable Cooking Tips
We did a little research and dove into our cookbooks, and we came up with five easy-to-follow tips for cooking vegetables:
1). Limit the water you use in cooking and limit cook time. The most common mistake people make when cooking vegetables is they use too much water and cook their veggies for too long. Are you familiar with that greenish-yellow hue the water takes on when you cook vegetables? That’s vitamin C and B being leached out into the water during the cooking process, only to be poured down the drain. If you must cook the vegetables in water, use as little water as possible, for as short a cook time as possible. An even better approach would be to steam your vegetables. Some prefer to microwave their veggies, but this too reduces nutrient content. Steaming vegetables is a great way to cook vegetables naturally while sacrificing an absolute minimal amount of nutrients. We also don’t recommend rinsing cooked vegetables in cold water either, as this too leaches minerals and nutrients out of them. Cook for as short a time as possible, steam them if you can, and do not rinse once they are done.
2). Incorporate a healthy fat into your cooking method. Ready for some science and biology? Much of the nutrients within vegetables (like beta carotene, vitamin K, and vitamin D) are fat-soluble, meaning they need to be processed from the digestive system into the bloodstream with a healthy fat. With that in mind, we recommend cooking vegetables with an organic vinaigrette or olive oil. Not only are these healthy fats, but they will add extra flavor to the veggies!
3). Mix vegetables with citrus. Iron-heavy veggies like spinach, kale, and broccoli do have the potential for providing the body with a healthy dose of iron, but much of the iron is not digested properly and therefore passes through the body undetected. However, when vitamin C, the calling card of citrus foods, is combined with iron, the vitamin changes the iron into a more digestible form. To give this a go, try adding just a touch of lemon juice, lime juice, grapefruit juice, or orange juice to a vegetable stir-fry or sauté.
4). Find a use for the excess water! Slow-cooking and boiling are probably the most common methods of cooking vegetables that also receive the most scrutiny. Why? Because of the nutrient-leach effect, the process of minerals, vitamins, and other healthful components of the vegetable being leached out of the vegetable and into the water. One tip to avoid losing those nutrients is to use the water the vegetables were cooked in! Save the water and use it for a broth, soup, or stew. That way, you can still use the most common vegetable cooking method without losing any of the nutrients.
5). The roast debate. Roasting and baking vegetables eliminates the water-leach aspect of cooking, but roasting does cause the formation of Advanced Glycation End-products. “AGEs” are known to cause oxidative stress. However, many vegetables contain massive quantities of antioxidants, essentially negating any AGEs build-up due to roasting. Furthermore, if you roast your vegetables at a medium heat but only roast them briefly, the AGEs build-up will be minimal.
6). Why not raw? For a final bonus tip, why not try your veggies raw? While it’s not so much a “cooking tip” per se, we cannot stress enough the importance of at least trying vegetables raw. The truth is, any cooking method removes some of the nutrients from vegetables, hence all of the effort to find a cooking method that removes the least amount of nutrients. But if every method removes some degree of nutrients, and eating veggies raw removes no nutrients, wouldn’t it be optimum to eat vegetables raw? To start, try implementing a light snack of your favorite raw vegetable into your diet each day. You don’t have to eat all of your veggies raw, but eating some of them raw opens the door to numerous health benefits.
Immune Solution’s Vegetable Superfood Supplements
Hopefully, an introduction to vegetable cooking methods will give you some new ideas on how to prepare your favorite veggies. But there is another option for people who feel they still are not getting enough vegetable nutrients.
This is referring to vegetable-based dietary supplements!
Immune Solution’s 100% Natural Broccoli Seed Extract is chock-full of antioxidants, has anti-cancer properties, and can boost heart health and immune response, as well as provide numerous other health benefits.
Immune Solution’s Raw Organic Beet Root juice powder helps promote cardiovascular health and boosts stamina during intense exercise. It’s also a superfood!
Immune Solution’s Pumpkin Seed Protein Powder contains 33 grams of clean protein in one serving and is further bolstered by superfoods and an entirely vegan, plant-based protein compound.
If you have any questions about how vegetable supplements can complement a healthy, balanced diet for you, reach out to our staff by filling out our contact form. Or you can call us direct at (727) 768-4688.
Until next time, happy veggie-cookin’!
– Ren Brabenec
Immune Solution Writing Staff