Twelve Tips for Getting More Vitamins from Your Food

cherry tomatoes on the stemCooking at home is the best way to make sure that your food is high in quality and nutrition. Just by cutting out extra salt, fat and sugar and preservatives in processed foods, you’re ahead of the game.  But all home cooking isn’t equal. Some techniques preserve the vitamins and minerals in your food, while others destroy them.

It’s not always practical to follow every technique each time. But the tips below can help you make better decisions.

  1. Wash vegetables shortly before cooking or eating, and avoid soaking.
  2. Eat food while it is still fresh.
  3. Store fruits and vegetables whole, and remove stems just before eating.
  4. Cover and refrigerate cooked foods quickly, while still hot if possible.
  5. Avoid freezing. Freezing reduces the moisture, and the nutrients, in food.
  6. Eat vegetables raw, or cook just until done. Many vegetables, like broccoli, taste good when partially cooked although they are healthiest raw. Some vegetables, like tomatoes and carrots, contain vitamins and antioxidants released only by cooking. Vitamin C is lessened by cooking, but it’s available in most fresh fruits or vegetables.
  7. Choose the right cooking method. Steaming foods preserves the most vitamins. The pressure cooker or microwave also work well. Avoid covering vegetables with water, unless you are using the cooking water as soup or for another recipe. Serve foods with the cooking water, or add to soup. Avoid deep-frying.
  8. Soak beans in cold water overnight (or skip the soaking altogether) instead of pre-boiling and throwing out the water. You’ll be throwing out vitamins as well. The exception is kidney beans, cannellini, and butter beans that need to be boiled at high temperature for ten minutes to kill dangerous toxins.
  9. Scrub and cook vegetables whole, with the peel on. You can slip the peel off after cooking. Most vitamins are just under the peel, so they are lost if you peel them while raw.
  10. Keep pieces large. Vitamins escape from the surface of cut vegetables. Grinding or mashing foods releases even more vitamins into the air.
  11. Eat iron-rich foods with Vitamin C. But cooking in an iron pot reduces Vitamin C in foods.
  12. Chew food carefully. Now is the time to mash it well so your body can digest it effectively.

More suggestions? Questions? Please share in the comments.

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Photo credit: CP Storm