Diet Diva
Diet Diva

Get advice on healthy eating, nutrition, and weight loss from expert dietitian Tara Gidus. 

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Are You Losing Nutrients When You Cook?

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I love vegetables and my favorite way to prepare most veggies is to simply saute them in a bit of olive oil. I rarely boil veggies but sometimes I microwave them. Which method of cooking actually maintains the most nutrients and which causes the most loss?

A new study in the Journal of Food Science published by the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) looked at just this question. They analyzed 6 different cooking methods with 20 vegetables to see which would be the best. The cooking methods were boiling, pressure cooking, baking, microwaving, griddling (I think that means saute in pan on stove), and frying.

Vegetables have so many important nutrients, and one class is the antioxidants. Some antioxidants are very finicky when it comes to absorption and holding up in heat. Others actually do better when they are heated.

Here is what they found:
  • Griddle and microwave cooking helped maintain the highest levels of antioxidants
  • Pressure cooking and boiling led to the greatest losses of nutrients
  • Of the veggies tested, cauliflower lost the most after boiling and microwaving, peas after boiling, and zucchini after boiling and frying.
  • Green beans, beets, and garlic were found to keep their antioxidant levels after most cooking treatments.
  • Some veggies actually increased antioxidant levels: green beans (expect when boiled), carrots, and celery.
  • Artichokes were the only veggie that kept it's really high antioxidant level during all cooking methods (did you know that artichokes are one of the highest antioxidant veggies?)
Bottom line
Eat your vegetables, no matter how they are prepared. If you want to maintain the most nutrition after cooking, saute or microwave.

To get a full copy of the article, email Jeannie Houchins at jhouchins@ift.org
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About the Author


MS, RD, CSSD, LD/N

Tara Gidus is a nationally recognized expert and spokesperson on nutrition and fitness.

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