The key to healthy eating is incorporating plenty of vegetables into your diet. No matter how the veggies are prepared, you’ll get vitamins and nutrients that your body needs to stay healthy and active. However, there are certain cooking methods that are better than others. If you already eat a variety of veggies but want to prepare them in the most beneficial ways possible, here’s what you need to know about the best way to cook vegetables.
Despite what you might think, microwaving vegetables is actually one of the best ways to cook veggies so they retain their nutrients. The short cooking times are responsible for this, and when you use a bit of water, you ensure that your veggies won’t dry out. This also eliminates the need to add extra oil. Just be sure to use microwave-safe sealable containers.
Boiling your veggies is quick and easy, but sometimes it does more harm than good. The high temperatures and large amounts of water can dissolve and rinse away 60 to 70 percent of minerals in some veggies, according to Time magazine. However, you can still get those nutrients if you add a bit of salt to the water or eat your veggies with the broth they were cooked in.
Baking or roasting your veggies is an excellent way to infuse them with plenty of flavor. It also ensures that your vegetables are cooked evenly. Letting the veggies caramelize by adding a little oil is perfectly healthy, but you can also bake them on their own. Rodale's Organic Life magazine recommended baking veggies like green beans, eggplant, corn, Swiss chard and spinach, all of which gain antioxidants during the cooking process.
Fried foods certainly are flavorful, but they're not the healthiest options. This cooking method adds a lot of unnecessary fat to your veggies and can reduce nutrient levels, so it's better to skip it entirely or save it for special occasions.
Steaming vegetables is fast, easy and very healthy. It doesn't require any oil, and it lets veggies soak up moisture without diminishing their nutrient levels. Add a bit of flavor by salting the water or adding a squeeze of lemon juice.
Sauteing is another great option for cooking vegetables, and it's super simple. The high heat of the stovetop cooks the veggies quickly, minimizing the amount of nutrients that are lost. Adding a bit of healthy oil helps your body absorb more of the nutrients and ensures a rich flavor.
Grilled veggies are a summertime staple, and luckily this method maximizes flavor without sacrificing the nutritional content. It gives a nice smoky flavor and doesn't require you to use excess fats. While eating charred, well-done meat off the grill has certain health risks, it's not the same for veggies, which require less cooking time and don't have the same fat and protein levels, according to Time.
When it comes down to it, eating your vegetables is the most important thing regardless of how you prepare them, but there are certain cooking methods that are better than others. Of course, eating your veggies raw is another tasty option that ensures a varied meal preparation plan.