- Steaming or poaching your veg can help you to retain more nutrients
- Try to eat a range of cooked and raw veg for best results
- Boost your veg intake with a super greens blend
Vegetables are a staple in any healthy diet, packed with essential vitamins and minerals. However, there’s a common concern that cooking vegetables may remove some of these valuable nutrients. So, does cooking vegetables remove nutrients?
The key thing to consider when cooking vegetables is – what, if any, effect will this cooking method have on the nutrient levels?
The answer to this depends a little on what nutrients we are talking about. For example, cooking can potentially reduce water-soluble vitamins, fat-soluble vitamins, and minerals.
Water-soluble vitamins include Vitamin C, and fat-soluble vitamins include Vitamin A. The body tends to use up water-soluble vitamins more quickly, whereas it can store fat-soluble vits for longer.
Cooking can potentially reduce the amount of water-soluble vitamins in vegetables, more than the level of fat-soluble vitamins.
Either way, it’s important to try and retain as many nutrients as possible when you choose to cook your vegetables.
Let’s look at a few of the common cooking methods:
So, does boiling vegetables remove nutrients? Well, this is a particularly bad way to cook things like broccoli and spinach.
Because cooking these high Vitamin C foods in hot water (at or over boiling point) will deplete a lot of its immune-supportive nutrient content.
Studies have shown that as much as 50% of the Vitamin C within foods such as broccoli might be lost during boiling. Which is a real waste.
And it’s not just Vitamin C that can be depleted through high-temperature cooking. You’re also likely to lose B Vitamins through this cooking method too.
B Vitamins do not like to be submerged in very hot water. In fact, most of them end up in the cooking water instead.
And, despite some unappealing insta vids – not many people are drinking the leftover veg water after cooking.
This is a much better way of preserving the nutrient content of your veggies. Here, the veg isn’t in direct contact with the hot water, like it is with boiling.
This means that you might only be looking at a 10% reduction in Vitamin C, instead of a 50% one.
You can increase the benefits of steaming by only adding as little amount of water as you need to prevent your steaming pan drying out.
This reduces any risk of your veg coming into contact with water as it cooks.
Also, try to keep the temperature of the water under boiling point to avoid excess heat destroying your veg’s nutrient content.
We’ve talked about how many vegetables are sensitive to water and heat when it comes to retaining nutrients.
So, with stir-frying, there are two key advantages here. Firstly, there is no contact with water – avoiding the leaching of Vitamins B and C from your veg.
Secondly, the heat is generally lower than with boiling and lasts for a shorter duration.
And interestingly with carrots – the fat-soluble beta carotene (a form of Vitamin A) is more easily absorbed after stir-frying. This means you’ll get a higher concentration of the nutrient than if you just ate raw carrots.
Choosing a healthy cooking oil such as olive oil is always a good idea.
But, it’s nice to know that frying isn’t always a bad thing – and that with stir-frying, you can actually increase the nutrient absorption from your veg.
Other cooking methods such as poaching or simmering, are only slightly more beneficial than boiling – as they are still prone to causing nutrient leaching.
This is because they both involve exposing vegetables to high heat and water. So if you’re wondering what temperature to cook your veg at – then why not try a gentle steam or quick stir fry with olive oil? And keep things well below boiling point.
Are Raw Vegetables Better Than Cooked?
With this, it really depends on which vegetables you’re talking about.
As we discussed earlier, stir-fried carrots have more available Vitamin A after stir-frying. And other studies show that a beneficial antioxidant in tomatoes – lycopene, actually increases when cooked in olive oil.
You should also avoid having too many raw thyroid-disrupting vegetables such as kale. Eaten in excess, kale and other raw veg such as spinach may aggravate hypothyroidism.
That being said, there are some wonderful benefits to be gained from having raw vegs such as garlic, and lettuce – as their nutrient profile is better uncooked.
What If I Don’t Enjoy Cooked Or Raw Vegetables?
If you’re not a fan of vegetables – I’ve got bad news for you. There’s no supplement on earth that can deliver more benefits than regularly eating a veg-packed diet.
Vegetables provide you with varied plant-based fibers which feed your healthy gut bugs. They also help to fill you up, give you slow-release carbs, and top up your antioxidants too.
But, the good news is you can sneak veg into dishes if you’re not a fan of the taste(the same applies if you don’t like the way super greens powder tastes too).
Think: blending onions and carrots into your bolognese, or throwing a handful of spinach into a blueberry smoothie.
And, if you still can’t get enough veggie goodness – help is at hand. In the form of greens powder. Here you can get a nutrient-dense boost without the veggie aftertaste.
Supergreen Tonik can act as your insurance policy to top up your stores of key vitamins such as Vitamin C, E, D, and more.
Taking a daily dose of this well-blended health aid will also up your antioxidant supplies, keep you calm with its added adaptogens and make sure your immune system is ticking over well.
And with Supergreen Tonik you don’t need to worry about any unwanted extras – as its full transparency labeling lets you know it’s free of heavy metals, glyphosate, and other nasties.
So, sneak in that spinach, but also top up with an affordable super greens blend you can trust. You can also make your own if you fancy a challenge!
Julia is a health content editor and nutritionist from Norwich, UK. She has worked as a health coach in private practice and for the national health service. She undertook an MSc in nutritional medicine to deepen her knowledge.
She enjoys producing evidence-based content which inspires people to become healthier and happier.