Three Ways to Get the Most From Your Food

October 10, 2014

Food preparation techniques such as peeling, chopping and cooking can have an impact on the nutritional value of your food, find out SupermarketGurus top three tips here.

Food preparation techniques such as peeling, chopping and cooking can have an impact on the nutritional value of your food, especially produce. Here are three things SupermarketGuru thinks you should know about keeping your food as fresh and nutrient dense as possible.  

Fresh is best… but frozen is next. We all know that fresh, ripe, local in season produce is generally highest in nutrients, but what if you don’t live near a farm or it’s winter? USDA data indicates that freezing produce immediately after harvesting retains 95 to 100 percent of most vitamins and minerals, with the exception of vitamin C, which diminishes by up to 30 percent in frozen produce. Still frozen is a great option, and often you can get great deals on produce - make sure the produce you are buying has no added ingredients - always check labels.

Be water wise and drink the broth! USDA data also shows that up to 50 percent of vitamin C, B1, B6 and folate in food can be lost to the water it’s cooked in. In order to retain water-soluble nutrients, use cooking methods like steaming or stir-frying that use less water, or reduce the amount of water used in boiling, and reuse cooking water in soups or sauces to capture escaped nutrients. This is also a great reason to eat more soups. Not only are you getting the nutrients and fiber in the veggies in the soup, but the broth is nutrient dense as well.

Light, heat and water degrade nutrients, so don’t cut your food into tiny pieces before cooking as this increases the surface area exposed to the elements mentioned above. The one exception is garlic and others in the allium family (onions, leeks, shallots) as chopping these foods and allowing them to sit for 10 minutes before cooking increases their nutritious benefits. On the same note, the peel is where most of the nutrients can be found in foods like potatoes, yams and carrots. In place of peeling, opt for a good vegetable brush and scrub vegetables thoroughly.

Take one of these tips and try it this week because the truth is, no matter how we slice, chop, dice, or cook ‘em, eating more fruits and vegetables is the best way to optimize nutrition. Experiment with different cooking methods as well, because using a variety of cooking techniques and ingredients might be the best policy for optimizing the nutrient quality of your produce and your diet.