People usually switch to plant-based food preparation due to their health benefits, and for overall wellbeing. But this depends on the cooking methods used, as it affects the nutrient content of the food. Also, it is age-old wisdom that you should cook vegetables and fruits minimum to preserve their nutritional value, and this is one of the key aspects of many Asian cuisines. Besides, temperature is the most important determining factor in cooking. In this article, we will explain the effects of various cooking methods on the nutrient content of plant passed food items.
Before discussing the various cooking methods, let us get a general understanding of its effect on nutrients. For example, the lipids, fats, and proteins in plant-based food like legumes and grains become more digestible upon cooking. But, it reduces nutrients like B vitamins, vitamins A, C, D, and K, and minerals like calcium, sodium, potassium, and magnesium. Listed below are the popular methods used for cooking a wide variety of plant-based foods.
Boiling, Poaching, And Simmering
The three moist heat cooking methods differ from each other based on the temperatures used. For poaching the temperature will be less than 82oC, for simmering the temperature ranges between 85 to 93oC, and in boiling the temperature is 100oC. Poaching is used for cooking delicate food like fruits or soft vegetables. The disadvantage of these methods is that it reduces vitamin C content as it is water-soluble. Likewise, it affects B vitamins because they are heat sensitive. However, these methods have the least effect on omega-3 fats.
Steaming is one of the best and popular cooking methods that can preserve the nutrients of plant-based food. Moreover, it causes a minimum reduction in vitamin C content. However, it can make the food taste bland.
Microwaving is one of the safe and convenient methods for plant-based food preparation because of reduced heat exposure. Besides, it retains the antioxidant nutrients and results in the least loss of vitamin C in green vegetables.
Sautéing And Stir-Frying
In sautéing and stir-frying, food is cooked in oil over medium to high heat, and this method is ideal for preserving B vitamins as water is not used. Also, the use of oil improves the absorption of certain nutrients and antioxidants. For example, beta carotene is better absorbed in stir-fried carrots than the raw ones. However, it reduces the amount of vitamin C in vegetables like red cabbages and broccoli. In short, this method of cooking plant-based food increases the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins.
These are the important points that you should bear in mind regarding cooking methods used in plant-based food preparation.