Saturday, May 26, 2007

How to preserve vitamins in food while cooking?

Many foods cannot be consumed in raw and have to be cooked to make them tasty and digestible. But by the time food is cooked, several nutrient loses occur in the food.

Methods of cooking:

1. Boiling
2. Steaming,
3. Frying
4. Baking etc.

• Foods cooked by steam, for example, idlis-are very easily digestible and are suitable for small children and even for the aged.

• Food stuffs like vegetables and rice can be cooked with the help of steam in a single vessel. The nutrient losses in steaming are less when compared to boiling because the vessel is closed.

• Avoid washing rice several times before cooking, as there is loss of B-complex vitamins. Therefore, washing rice not more than twice in just sufficient water can retain many of the vitamins.

• In many homes, when rice is cooked, the starch water is drained off and wasted. This is not a good practice as the starch water contains the B-complex vitamins. To prevent this loss of nutrients, just sufficient water for cooking the rice should be used. In some other homes, the starch water is consumed, as such. This is a good practice and must be encouraged.

Raw foods:

Like carrots, tomatoes, cucumbers, beet roots, onions, cabbage and beans are used in preparations like vegetable salads which are nutritious, containing vitamins and minerals and add variety and colour to the meal. Never forget to wash the vegetables thoroughly with water before using.

Cooking precautions:

Vitamins and minerals present in the vegetables are dissolved in water during cooking. So all the vegetables should be washed well and then cut into big cubes and later cooked (cutting into small pieces) increase the exposed areas and the loss of vitamins is also more. The water used for cooking vegetables should not be drained.

Root vegetables like potato and sweet potato should be cooked in their skins to retain the nutrients.

Green leafy vegetables should first be washed thoroughly in running water and then cut into pieces and cooked. Addition of extra water for cooking is not necessary.

Remember that overcooking the vegetables increases the loss of nutrients. Cooking vegetables till they are tender is sufficient.

Adding baking soda to pulses during cooking (to shorten the cooking time), is not a good practice, as baking soda destroys the B-complex vitamins present in them.

Vegetables should be cooked when fresh, as exposure to sunlight results in loss of vitamins.

the fresh oil in preparing the foods. Using the same heated oil by adding some more fresh oil is not good as continuous reheating of oil can result in the formation of harmful products.

Source: Indian Express.


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