Our Better Health

Diet, Health, Fitness, Lifestyle & Wellness


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17 Food Combinations that Can Boost Your Health

Hard boiled egg + salad
Out of all the numerous topping options at the salad bar, pick up a hard boiled egg. The fat in the egg yolk helps your body best absorb carotenoids, disease-busting antioxidants found in veggies, according to 2015 research in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Count it as one more reason you should definitely eat the yolks.

Fries + veggies
You don’t want to have to choose between the steamed veggie or fries as a side. Why not get them both? Pairing a nutritious and less-nutritious food choice (officially called a ‘vice-virtue bundle’) can help you stick to your health goals, suggests research in the journal Management Science. One tip to balance the calories—keep your portion of fries/dessert/onion rings small or medium, suggest researchers. If you can order only one size and it’s jumbo, ask for half to be packed upie immediately in a to-go box—or portion out half the plate for a companion. The researchers found that people didn’t actually want to eat enormous piles of treats anyway.

Marinade + steak
Grilling is a quick and healthy way to get dinner on the table, no doubt. However, cooking meat at high temps (a la grilling) creates potentially cancer-causing compounds called heterocyclic amines (HCAs). The delicious solution: marinate your meat. Especially when you use certain herbs and spices in your marinade, including rosemary, it can reduce HCAs by up to 88 percent, according to a study from Kansas State University.

Olive oil + kale
Even though the buzz around heart-healthy fats like olive oil is good, you may still be trying to cut down on oil in an effort to save calories. But it’s time to start sauteeing your veggies again. ‘Vegetables have many fat-soluble vitamins, like A, D, E, and K, which means they need fat to be absorbed,’ explains culinary nutrition expert and healthy living blogger Jessica Fishman Levinson, MS, RDN, of Nutritioulicious. In addition to kale, make sure you cook carrots, sweet potatoes, and broccoli with a little fat too.

Almonds + yogurt
Vitamin D is credited with so many health benefits, including boosting your bones, mood, and immune function. Many yogurts supply one-quarter your daily need for D per cup. To make the most of it though, toss some slivered almonds on top before digging in—especially if you’re eating non- or low-fat yogurt. The fat in the nuts helps raise the levels of D found in your blood 32 percent more compared to having no fat at all, reveals research in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

Sardines + spinach
The fatty fish is abundant in vitamin D, while spinach offers magnesium. In 2013 research, magnesium was shown to interact with the vitamin to boost levels of D in your body. Long-term, this may even help reduce risk of heart disease and colon cancer.

Turmeric + black pepper
You’ve no doubt heard the buzz around the anti-cancer properties of curcumin, the molecule in turmeric that gives the spice its yellow hue. Problem is, it can be difficult for your body to absorb and truly reap the benefits. Combining turmeric with black pepper—which isn’t hard to do in cooking—is a great way to up your body’s ability to use it by 2,000 percent, research shows.

Avocado + toast
If you’re participating in ‘Toast Tuesdays,’ you might have tried the much-obsessed over avocado toast. And it is delicious, FYI. The foods are a perfect match not just for their taste but because the fat from the avocado will slow the rate at which carbs are broken down, absorbed, and converted into sugar, points out Levinson. It’s simple: just spread avocado on whole grain toast and top with some sea salt and pepper (and even lemon juice or hot sauce) and you’re good to go. Add a fried egg for an extra protein boost.

avocado toast

Tomato sauce + spinach
Might as well pack more veggies into the sauce, right? Spinach contains iron, something you may need more of if you’re not eating meat (which is the most abundant source of the mineral). The catch? Iron is not easily absorbed from plant sources, so to tip the scales in your favor, you need to eat these plants with a source of vitamin C, according to Levinson. In this case, tomatoes provide the kick of vitamin C you need to best absorb your spinach. Try her recipe for tomato sauce with spinach, or opt for these other power duos: spinach salad with strawberries, beans and bell peppers, or tofu and broccoli.

Brown rice + lentils
If you’re vegetarian, you may have heard that you should eat certain foods together to ensure you’re getting a complete protein. It’s actually more important that you get a variety of plant proteins throughout the day rather than in one specific meal, says Levinson. Still, some combos are classics for a reason—together, they form a complete protein. Try a brown rice and lentil bowl, beans wrapped in corn tortillas, or nut butter slathered on whole grain bread.

Salmon + leafy greens
Greens to the rescue once more! Vitamin D and calcium are typically found together in dairy, and for good reason: Vitamin D helps your body absorb calcium, both of which are critical for bone health, points out Levinson. But if you don’t eat milk or yogurt, what do you do? Buy  salmon and eat it atop a bed of cooked greens of your choice (sauteeing them cooks them down, making it easier to eat a bigger serving).

Brown rice + garlic + onion
Here’s a reason to make a stir-fry tonight: Garlic and onion help increase the availability of iron and zinc in whole grains, according to Levinson. You can thank the sulfur-containing compounds within the stinky alliums (garlic and onion) for the mineral boost, say researchers.

Carbonation + water
Think we’re getting one by you? If you have trouble getting yourself to drink plain H20, hear us out about why bubbles and water make an ideal match. One German study found that people who made carbonated water at home (think SodaStream), drank more water than those who didn’t—and bonus!—consumed less fat during the day, too.

Red wine + black pepper
The spice does it again. Black pepper contains a compound called piperine, which may help improve the bioavailability of resveratrol (the disease-busting antioxidant in red wine) to tissues, suggests an animal study published in the journal Molecular Nutrition & Food Research. While it doesn’t seem like a natural pairing, simply drink a glass of vino with dinner, and keep the pepper mill handy. Bon appetit!

Green tea + lemon
When you give your cup a squirt of citrus, the vitamin C preserves green tea’s antioxidant catechins, helping them survive the harrowing journey through your digestive tract to where your body can absorb them—so you can reap the benefits from the brew—reveals Purdue University research.

Guacamole + salsa
Pass the chips, please. This is another perfect example of how the antioxidants in certain produce, like tomatoes, need a little fat in order to be absorbed. In fact, a study in the Journal of Nutrition found that eating avocado with salsa improved the absorption of lycopene and beta-carotene in the tomatoes by 4.4 and 2.6 times, respectively. It’s the perfect excuse to go for Mexican tonight.

Pistachios + raisins
When you think about it, trail mix makes lots of sense. Eating dried fruit and nuts together can help improve your metabolic health to help decrease your diabetes risk, suggests a review published in Nutrition Journal. Together, they supply fiber, vitamins, and minerals—and the fat from the nuts helps keep your blood sugar at an even keel. Try making your own custom trail mix instead of paying a premium for the pre-packaged kind.

 

Jessica Migala  2019-01-16
source: www.msn.com
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Five Foods That May Increase Your IQ

A healthy diet as you’re growing up may help you have a higher IQ, while a diet high in processed foods, fat and sugar may result in a lower IQ, according to a study published in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health in February 2011. Many of the same foods typically recommended for a healthy diet may also be good for your IQ.

Fish and Omega-3 Sources

Omega-3 fats, found in many types of fish and seafood, walnuts and flaxseeds, are important for infant brain development. An article published on the Association for Psychological Science website notes that children given omega-3 fats have higher IQs than those who don’t consume much of these essential polyunsaturated fats. These healthy fats may also help protect against dementia as you get older. Oysters are also a good seafood choice, because they’re rich in zinc. Zinc deficiency may adversely affect brain development, according to a review article published in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience in 2013.

Children and pregnant women are particularly sensitive to contaminants in fish, so choose those that are high in omega-3 fats but low in contaminants, such as wild salmon, sardines, Atlantic mackerel, mussels and rainbow trout for the recommended two servings per week of seafood to maximize benefits while minimizing risks.

Fruits and Vegetables

Antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables, such as leafy greens and orange and red fruits and vegetables, may help protect your brain function and your memory as you age because of the beta-carotene and vitamin C they contain.

A diet rich in herbs, legumes, raw fruits and vegetables and cheese resulted in a higher IQ in children than a diet that included higher amounts of sweet and salty snacks, according to a study published in the European Journal of Epidemiology in July 2012.

Another study, published in the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry in 2009, came to a similar conclusion, showing that children who ate higher amounts of fruits, vegetables and home-prepared foods had higher IQs.

Iron-Rich Foods

Iron-deficiency anemia may impair your attention span, IQ and ability to concentrate, so eat plenty of iron-rich foods. Increasing iron intake only appears to help IQ when children are deficient in iron, however, according to the Frontiers in Human Neuroscience article. Iron-rich foods include lean meats, oysters, beans, tofu, spinach, sardines and fortified breakfast cereals.

Other Protein-Rich Foods

Diets higher in protein and lower in fat may help improve your concentration because of the dopamine your body releases with protein consumption. Soy protein may be particularly helpful, since it also contains lecithin, which may improve memory and brain function. Lowfat dairy products, lean meats and poultry, eggs, nuts, seeds and legumes are all nutritious sources of protein.

Get Plenty of B Vitamins and Choline

Foods containing folate, vitamin B-12 and choline may also help keep your brain healthy, limiting your risk for dementia, depression and neurological disorders. They are also important for cognitive development, so if children don’t get enough of these vitamins they may have a lower IQ. Folate is available in fortified breakfast cereals, spinach, beef liver, rice, asparagus, black-eyed peas, Brussels sprouts and avocado, and most animal-based foods contain vitamin B-12. Good sources of choline include beef, eggs, scallops, salmon, chicken breast, cod, shrimp, Brussels sprouts and broccoli.

by JESSICA BRUSO       Jun 17, 2015


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This Mineral May Be Key to Protecting Your Bones (It’s Not Calcium)

Calcium and vitamin D may get the spotlight when it comes to bone health, but there’s another mineral that plays a role in keeping your skeleton strong: It’s magnesium, and 67% of the body’s stores for this mineral are found in your bones. Now, research published in the European Journal of Epidemiology suggests magnesium could help prevent fractures.

While previous research had revealed that magnesium supports bone growth, no study had tied the mineral to risk of bone fractures. Tapping into over 20 years of data on 2,245 men, investigators in Britain and Finland compared the men’s magnesium blood levels to their risk of fracture. They discovered that the higher a man’s magnesium, the lower his risk of fracture.

Magnesium works with bone building cells (aka osteoblasts), and works in conjunction with vitamin D and parathyroid hormone to keep calcium levels normal, and fracture risk low. Medical factors affecting magnesium absorption include inflammatory bowel disease (or other chronic diarrhea problems), kidney insufficiency or certain medications.

So, how much magnesium should you eat? The recommended daily intake for adults over 31 years of age is 320 mg for females and 420 mg for males. Nuts and seeds, especially almonds, sunflower seeds, walnuts and cashews are rich in magnesium. Other food sources include oatmeal, milk, peanut butter, spinach, broccoli, peas and beets.

However, the Finnish study couldn’t link dietary intake of magnesium to higher blood levels of magnesium, which is strange. Although the study authors aren’t sure why food couldn’t boost levels, previous research suggests an improvement in bone density among menopausal women who took supplements of magnesium hydroxide.

The bottom line is that eating foods high in magnesium still makes sense, since those foods tend to be healthy. If you’re at elevated risk for osteoporosis or fracture talk to your physician or a registered dietitian about taking magnesium supplements.

BY JENNIFER BOWERS, PHD, RD
source: www.rd.com


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10 Signs You’re Not Getting Enough Magnesium

Magnesium deficiency is one of the most underrated minerals, but it’s involved in literally hundreds of your body’s functions. Pay attention to it, and your body will thank you.

So what’s the deal with magnesium?

Magnesium is involved in numerous bodily functions, from relaxing sore muscles to relieving anxiety, though it isn’t as widely discussed as other vitamins and minerals. Holistic nutrition coach Andrea Moss of Moss Wellness in New York City says magnesium deficiencies are such a big focus in her practice because nutritionists see the effects so frequently. “So many clients of ours are surprised to hear about it, since it usually isn’t discussed by their physicians,” she says. Don’t let that happen to you—check out our tips for what magnesium deficiency signs you might be ignoring.

You kind of hate vegetables

The most common cause of magnesium deficiencies is a diet deprived of magnesium-rich foods. “Many of us are magnesium deficient because we aren’t necessarily eating enough magnesium-rich foods,” says Moss. Moss recommends veggies, brown rice, nuts and seeds to adjust this.

You’re so stressed out

If you’re under a lot of stress, your body will react chemically and magnesium levels can be affected. “Stress also can make us more prone to magnesium deficiency, as can excessive sweating from workouts,” says Moss. Try to take it easy, both mentally and physically, and your body will thank you.

Junk food is one of your food groups

Replacing fruit with Fruit Roll-Ups can wreak havoc on your magnesium levels. “Normal, healthy people should get enough magnesium as long as they eat enough fruit, vegetables, and complex starches/whole grains,” says Monica Auslander, MS, RD, LD/N, founder of Essence Nutrition in Florida. “You can see how a poor diet quality could result in these deficiencies!” These are good clues you’re eating too many preservatives.

The littlest things can give you a headache

If your head is pounding and you can’t seem to shake it, you might want to get tested for a magnesium deficiency. People often have headaches when their magnesium levels are low, says Auslander.

You’re constipated

You might not think about magnesium levels when you’re constipated, but you should. Auslander says people often experience constipation precisely when their magnesium levels are too low.

You’re more shaky or twitchy lately

A little shake here or there might not seem like a big deal, but take it seriously. Nutritionist Alyse Levine MS, RD of Nutritionbite in California warns that chronically low levels of magnesium can lead to more serious problems like an irregular heartbeat or even seizures. It’s also a good idea to be aware of these other symptoms of atrial fibrillation.

Your energy levels are MIA

Magnesium helps energize your body, so if you don’t have enough of it, you’ll feel weak. “Magnesium is involved in at least 300 different chemical reactions in our body, and a lot have to do with energy production,” says Alison Boden, MPH, RD, functional medicine nutritionist in California. “A sign of low magnesium can be low energy.”

You’re not sleeping well

While magnesium can be used to treat a number of medical issues, and Boden uses it the most for sleep problems. “If patients have a hard time winding down, we use magnesium therapeutically to help with that,” says Boden. “It’s a muscle relaxant that can slow things down bit and help with sleep.”

You’re dealing with bone loss problems

A lot of magnesium is stored in bones, so Boden says a deficiency in it can cause bone loss when there isn’t enough magnesium over a long period of time.

You have low levels of vitamin D

When low magnesium levels lead to low vitamin D levels, a whole cascade of problems develop. “We need magnesium to absorb vitamin D. Too much calcium can actually lower absorption as well, so we need to find a balance between all these vitamins and minerals,” says Manuel Villacorta MS, registered dietitian and founder of Whole Body Reboot in California. “This stuff can happen to everyone.”

BY ALEXANDRA WHITTAKER
source: www.rd.com


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Health Benefits of Cashews

Cashews are delicious and full of nutrients. A popular ingredient in vegan foods and Indian cuisine, cashews can be eaten raw, salted, added to salads or used to make rich, creamy sauces. Cashews are a staple nut, easy to find in stores and to add to all manner of foods. In addition to being versatile and tasty, they’re also chock-full of nutrients. Here are just a few health benefits of cashews:

Healthy Fats

Cashews are high in fat content, which is one of the reasons they are so important for vegans and vegetarians. These nuts aren’t composed of just any kind of fat, either—they’re rich in poly- and monounsaturated fats, major components of the Mediterranean diet that have been shown to decrease LDL cholesterol levels and promote heart health.

Healthline notes that replacing saturated fats, such as those found in animal products, with poly- and monounsaturated fats can help reduce your risk of heart disease. It’s healthy fat that leads most researchers to believe that the Mediterranean lifestyle is the healthiest one for heart health.

cashews

A Cascade of Vitamins

Cashews are also very rich in vitamins. The vitamins K, E and B6 are particularly prevalent in cashews and are associated with many different positive health outcomes.

Vitamin K is most notable for its role in blood clotting regulation. It also supports a healthy skeletal system. A fat-soluble vitamin, it is stored in the body’s fat deposits in the liver and elsewhere.

Vitamin E, which is also fat-soluble, helps the body utilize vitamin K and is also a protective antioxidant. Antioxidants, which are associated with cancer and aging protection, bind to free radicals in the body, neutralizing their effects. This handy vitamin also plays a role in red blood cell production, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center.

Finally, vitamin B6 is also prevalent in cashews. The B-group vitamins are extremely important for good health, as they assist in metabolism (converting glucose, fats and protein into energy that can be used by the body). Vitamin B6 is one member of this important group, which are also known for supporting healthy hair, skin and nails.

A Host of Minerals

If anything can outdo cashews’ impressive reserves of vitamins, it’s their mineral content. Cashews contain copper, iron, magnesium and selenium, all of which are important for a healthy body.

Copper is extremely prevalent in cashews. Copper, like vitamin K, is important for blood health. It works together with iron to form red blood cells, according to Healthline.

Magnesium is beneficial for skeletal health. It is part of a trifecta of minerals (magnesium, calcium and potassium) that work together to deliver nutrients to bones, keeping them strong as people age.

Selenium, meanwhile, functions as an antioxidant. The University of Maryland states that it works in conjunction with vitamin E—these two nutritional powerhouses have the ability to neutralize free radicals.

By: Maggie McCracken    June 17, 2016    Follow Maggie at @MaggieBlogs


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Are Some Frozen Fruits and Vegetables Healthier Than Fresh?

It may seem like a natural assumption that fresh fruits and vegetables are more nutritious. But research shows this can be a false assumption. Frozen fruits and vegetables can be more nutritious than their unprocessed counterparts.

Brief Overview of Commercial Freezing Processes

Vegetables are typically blanched prior to freezing. This means they are submerged in boiling water for a few minutes. The purpose of blanching is to inactivate any naturally occurring enzymes that cause deterioration of the vegetables.

Fruit are usually not blanched prior to freezing. They are washed and frozen directly because of their delicate textures and higher acidity. This acidity will naturally slow down their deterioration process and help preserve them during freezing.

Both vegetables and fruit are frozen using modern technology that can freeze them very quickly. This prevents large ice crystals from forming inside the food and damaging cell walls. Fast freezing allows the food to retain its maximum flavor, texture and color after thawing.

What Research Tells Us

Various studies have been done on how processing and storage affects frozen fruits and vegetables compared to fresh. There are some consistent findings throughout much of the current research available.

Vitamin C – Freshly picked vegetables contain the highest amount of vitamin C. However, vitamin C begins to degrade immediately after harvest. For example, green peas have been shown to lose up to 51 percent of their vitamin C during the first 24 to 48 hours after harvesting.

Vitamin C is also sensitive to heat and water-soluble, so there is often some vitamin C lost during the blanching process for vegetables. On average, vegetables lose about 50 percent of their vitamin C during the freezing process.

This may sound like a lot, but this is often much better than a fresh vegetable. For instance, frozen spinach will lose 30 percent of its vitamin C after processing and one year of storage. Whereas, fresh spinach will lose 75 percent of its vitamin C after four days of storage at 4°C (39°F), a typical refrigerator temperature.

Because fruit is not heat processed prior to freezing, it retains vitamin C much better than frozen vegetables or fresh fruit. For instance, one study found that frozen blueberries and raspberries actually had significantly higher amounts of vitamin C than fresh berries stored for 3 days at 4°C (39°F).

B Vitamins – Like vitamin C, B vitamins, such as thiamin, riboflavin and folate, are also sensitive to heat and water-soluble. Not surprisingly, research results are similar to vitamin C. They showed a loss of B vitamins during the initial blanching process for vegetables, but the remaining vitamin B in the frozen, stored products remained stable and higher than fresh over time.

Vitamin A and Carotenoids – The primary source of vitamin A in fruits and vegetables is beta-carotene. Other carotenoids, such as lycopene, are also important for health.

Vitamin A and carotenoids are fat-soluble. This means they are not as sensitive to blanching and heat-processing methods. Especially in fruit, vitamin A and carotenoid levels appear to remain relatively similar after freezing compared to fresh.

In vegetables, the levels of vitamin A and carotenoids varies depending on the food. Frozen green peas are shown to have significantly less beta-carotene than fresh peas, whereas frozen broccoli and carrots have been found to have significantly higher amounts of beta-carotene than fresh.

frozen-vegetables

Minerals – Naturally-occurring minerals, such as calcium or potassium, are stable when heated. Some mineral content of vegetables may be lost during blanching, but retention is generally high, ranging from 78 to 91 percent of the minerals staying in the frozen food. Fruit can be even higher as they are not blanched.

Antioxidants – These are also known as phenolic compounds. Antioxidants are a vital part of our diet that can counteract the harmful effects of aging. Fruits and vegetables contain hundreds of different types of phenolic compounds.

The blanching process is actually beneficial for phenolic compounds. They are naturally oxidized by the enzymes found in fresh vegetables, so inactivating them through a heat-treatment preserves the antioxidant levels in frozen vegetables.

In fruit, freezing is shown to have a minimal effect on phenolic compounds. Interestingly, frozen blueberries and some varieties of raspberries have actually been found to have a higher amount of antioxidants than fresh.

Other Important Considerations

The story doesn’t end simply at nutrient comparisons. Other factors also affect the final nutritional value of your fruits and vegetables.

Cooking – If you cook fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables while preparing them for your meals, this will continue to degrade the heat-sensitive vitamins.

Age of Fresh Produce – Unless you’re lucky enough to live in an area with lots of local farms that can grow fresh produce year-round, you’re likely buying your fruits and vegetables from a supermarket that’s shipped them in from hundreds or thousands of miles away. You don’t know when the fresh produce you’re buying was harvested or how long it’s been deteriorating in storage.

Picking Time – Fruits and vegetables have the highest nutritional value at their peak ripeness. Unfortunately, many types of produce are difficult to ship when they’re fully ripe because they’ll spoil easily. Many varieties are picked when they’re not ripe to simplify transport. These will have lower nutrient contents than frozen produce that is picked and processed when it’s at the perfect ripeness.

How to Maximize Your Frozen Fruits and Veggies

Commercially, frozen foods are kept at -18°C to -20°C (0.4°F to -4°F). This storage temperature has been shown to keep them at their best nutrient content for one year or longer. If they are stored at temperatures any warmer than this, frozen produce will start to slowly deteriorate.

The temperatures in a home freezer can vary depending on the freezer’s age, how often it’s opened, or its efficiency. Keep an eye on the temperature in your own freezer and try to use your frozen produce within one year or less to make sure it’s still at peak nutrition.

To use frozen fruits or vegetables, it’s best to put them directly into whatever dish you’re preparing. Leaving them out to thaw for any length of time at room temperature will cause them to oxidize and lose further nutrients.

By: Zoe Blarowski    April 18, 2016


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How to Cook Your Foods to Get the Most Nutrients Out of Them

By Franziska Spritzler / Authority Nutrition      February 17, 2016

Eating nutritious foods can improve your health and energy levels.

Surprisingly, the way you cook your food has a major effect on the amount of nutrients in it.

This article will explore how the different cooking methods affect the nutrient content of foods.

Nutrient Content is Often Altered During Cooking

Cooking food improves digestion and increases absorption of many nutrients.

For example, protein in cooked eggs is 180% more digestible than in raw eggs.

However, several key nutrients are reduced with some cooking methods.

Nutrients That May Decrease

The following nutrients are often reduced during cooking:

  • Water-soluble vitamins: vitamin C and the B vitamins — thiamin (B1), riboflavin (B2), niacin (B3), pantothenic acid (B5), pyridoxine (B6), folic acid (B7) and cobalamin (B8).
  • Fat-soluble vitamins: vitamins A, D, E and K.
  • Minerals: primarily potassium, magnesium, sodium and calcium

Bottom Line: Although cooking improves digestion and the absorption of many nutrients, the levels of some vitamins and minerals may decrease.

Boiling, Simmering and Poaching

Boiling, simmering and poaching are similar methods of water-based cooking.

These techniques differ by water temperature:

  • Poaching: less than 180°F/82°C.
  • Simmering: 185-200°F/85-93°C.
  • Boiling: 212°F/100°C.

Vegetables are generally a great source of vitamin C, but a large amount of it is lost when cooked in water.

In fact, boiling reduces vitamin C more than any other cooking method. Broccoli, spinach and lettuce may lose up to 50% or more of their vitamin C when boiled.

Because vitamin C is water-soluble and sensitive to heat, it can leach out of vegetables when they’re immersed in hot water.

B vitamins are similarly heat sensitive. Up to 60% of thiamin, niacin and other B vitamins may be lost when meat is simmered and its juices run off.

However, when the liquid containing these juices is consumed, 100% of the minerals and 70-90% of B vitamins are retained.

On the other hand, boiling fish was shown to preserve omega-3 fatty acid content significantly more than frying or microwaving.

Bottom Line: While water-based cooking methods cause the greatest losses of water-soluble vitamins, they have very little effect on omega-3 fats.

Grilling and Broiling

Grilling and broiling are similar methods of cooking with dry heat.

When grilling, the heat source comes from below, but when broiling, it comes from above.

Grilling is one of the most popular cooking methods because of the great flavor it gives food.

However, up to 40% of B vitamins and minerals may be lost during grilling or broiling when the nutrient-rich juice drips from the meat.

There are also concerns about polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), which are potentially cancer-causing substances that form when meat is grilled and fat drips onto a hot surface.

Luckily, researchers have found that PAHs can be decreased by 41-89% if drippings are removed and smoke is minimized.

Bottom Line: Grilling and broiling provide great flavor but also reduce B vitamins. Grilling generates potentially cancer-causing substances.

Microwaving

Microwaving is an easy, convenient and safe method of cooking.

Short cooking times and reduced exposure to heat preserve the nutrients in microwaved food (9, 10).

Studies have found that microwaving is the best method for retaining the antioxidant activity in garlic and mushrooms.

About 20-30% of vitamin C in green vegetables is lost during microwaving, which is less than most cooking methods.

Bottom Line: Microwaving is a safe cooking method that preserves most nutrients due to short cooking times.

Roasting and Baking

Roasting and baking refer to cooking food in an oven with dry heat.

Although these terms are somewhat interchangeable, the term “roasting” is typically used for meat while “baking” is used for bread, muffins, cake and similar foods.

Most vitamin losses are minimal with this cooking method, including vitamin C.

However, due to long cooking times at high temperatures, B vitamins in roasted meat may decline by as much as 40%.

Bottom Line: Roasting or baking does not have a significant effect on most vitamins and minerals, with the exception of B vitamins.

stirfry

Sautéing and Stir-Frying

With sautéing and stir-frying, food is cooked in a saucepan over medium to high heat in a small amount of oil or butter.

These techniques are very similar, but with stir-frying the food is stirred often, the temperature is higher and the cooking time is shorter.

In general, this is a healthy way to prepare food.

Cooking for a short time without water prevents loss of B vitamins, and the addition of fat improves the absorption of plant compounds and antioxidants.

One study found that absorption of beta-carotene was 6.5 times greater in stir-friedcarrots than in raw.

In another study, blood lycopene levels increased 80% more when people consumedtomatoes sautéed in olive oil rather than without.

On the other hand, stir-frying has been shown to significantly reduce the amount of vitamin C in broccoli and red cabbage.

Bottom Line: Sautéing and stir-frying improve the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins and some plant compounds, but they decrease the amount of vitamin C in vegetables.

Frying

Frying involves cooking food in a large amount of fat, usually oil, at a high temperature. The food is often coated with batter or bread crumbs.

It’s a popular way of preparing food because the skin or coating maintains a seal, which ensures that the inside remains moist and cooks evenly.

The fat used for frying also makes the food taste very good.

However, not all foods are appropriate for frying.

Fatty fish are the best sources of omega-3 fatty acids, which have many health benefits. These fats are very delicate and prone to damage at high temperatures.

Frying tuna has been shown to degrade its omega-3 content by up to 70-85%, while baking caused only minimal losses.

In contrast, frying preserves vitamin C and B vitamins, and it may also increase the amount of fiber in potatoes by converting their starch into resistant starch.

When oil is heated to a high temperature for a long period of time, toxic substances called aldehydes are formed. Aldehydes have been linked to an increased risk of cancer and other diseases.

The type of oil, temperature and length of cooking time affect the amounts of aldehydes produced. Reheating oil also increases aldehyde formation.

If you’re going to fry food, don’t overcook it, and use one of the healthiest oils for frying.

Bottom Line: Frying makes food taste delicious, and it can provide some benefits when healthy oils are used. It’s best to avoid frying fatty fish and minimize frying time for other foods.

Steaming

Steaming is one of the best cooking methods for preserving nutrients, including water-soluble vitamins that are sensitive to heat and water.

Researchers have found that steaming broccoli,spinach and lettuce reduces their vitamin C content by only 9-15%.

The downside is that steamed vegetables may taste bland. However, this is easy to remedy by adding some seasoning and oil or butter after cooking.

Try this easy recipe for steamed broccoli with suggested additions to improve the flavor.

Bottom Line: Steaming is one of the best cooking methods for preserving nutrients, including water-soluble vitamins.

Tips to Maximize Nutrient Retention During Cooking

Here are 10 tips to reduce nutrient loss while cooking:

  1. Use as little water as possible for poaching or boiling.
  2. Consume the liquid left in the pan after cooking vegetables.
  3. Add back juices from meat that drip into the pan.
  4. Don’t peel vegetables until after cooking them. Better yet, don’t peel at all to maximize fiber and nutrient density.
  5. Cook vegetables in smaller amounts of water to reduce loss of vitamin C and B vitamins.
  6. Try to finish cooked vegetables within a day or two, as vitamin C content may continue to decline when the cooked food is exposed to air.
  7. Cut food after rather than before cooking, if possible. When food is cooked whole, less of it is exposed to heat and water.
  8. Cook vegetables for only a few minutes whenever possible.
  9. When cooking meat, poultry and fish, use the shortest cooking time needed for safe consumption.
  10. Don’t use baking soda when cooking vegetables. Although it helps maintain color, vitamin C will be lost in the alkaline environment produced by baking soda.

Bottom Line: There are many ways to preserve the nutrient content in foods without sacrificing taste or other qualities.

Take Home Message

It’s important to select the right cooking method to maximize the nutritional quality of your meal.

However, there is no perfect method of cooking that retains all nutrients.

In general, cooking for shorter periods at lower temperatures with minimal water will produce the best results.

Don’t let the nutrients in your food go down the drain.

Franziska Spritzler has a BSc in nutrition and dietetics. She is a Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator with expertise in carbohydrate-restricted diets for diabetes and weight management.