Eating “healthy foods” doesn’t really mean you’re eating healthy unless you cook them right. Studies prove that the majority of cooking methods cause a significant loss in nutrients. So, for example, stir-frying can make even broccoli next to useless nutritionally.
Top 4 Cooking Methods for Healthy Foods
Steaming is the healthiest cooking method available, so it definitely should be at the top of your list to master. The good news is that there are multiple steaming techniques, so you don’t have to invest in a steamer right away.
You can use this method to cook vegetables, fish, some types of seafood, and meat. Steaming requires no oil whatsoever, so you won’t be adding any fats to your food. The products cook in their own juices and they do it rather fast. This is why the loss of nutrients is minimal. Steaming can also help you keep some veggies crispy and firm.
It’s definitely the best method to cook broccoli, which is one of the healthiest foods out there. Steaming is the only way to cook it without losing nearly half of the antioxidants and phytonutrients that make broccoli so beneficial.
2. Pressure cooking
Pressure cooking is a method that uses intense heat, so more nutrients are lost compared to steaming. However, it’s a healthier alternative to boiling, which, basically, does the same thing but takes much longer. Pressure cookers are rather energy-efficient and can help you whip up a delicious dinner in under an hour. In fact, they can cut the cooking times even for beans by half, at the least.
Today there are pressure cooker models that can make anything, up to cakes. However, they are most commonly used to make vegetables, stews, beans, and rice. You should definitely try cooking meat in a pressure cooker because it turns out very juicy and delicious.
There’s this popular misconception that microwave ovens are dangerous and that the food cooked in them is all but toxic. However, the truth is that they aren’t any more dangerous then your cellphone if you use them right. Moreover, microwaving saves more nutrients than the majority of other cooking methods. That’s because the food inside the oven is heated up using electromagnetic waves, so the temperature, which is what ruins the nutrient compounds, doesn’t rise too high. Also, this method allows us to heat up and cook foods extremely fast.
The result is that microwaving ensures only a small part of antioxidants and other heat-sensitive nutrients is destroyed. Moreover, this method allows you to enjoy a nice meal fast and can be used for making a great number of dishes.
As to the electromagnetic radiation emitted by microwave ovens. It does exist, and standing right near the oven while it’s working isn’t a smart decision. However, these appliances are designed specifically to keep the radiation in. Therefore, they are as safe as it’s possible to get, and they are getting safer with every new model.
Note that you shouldn’t use plastic containers for cooking in the microwave. Although there are some types of plastic that are certified as safe for microwaving, it’s best to stick with glass.
Grilling is one of the best cooking methods not only for saving nutrients but also for making fantastic meals. Few things are as delicious as freshly-grilled meat and veggies. Also, you don’t have to invest in fancy grills as even the simplest model will allow you to achieve the same effects. In fact, grilling meat over your firepit or BBQ will be very much the same. However, modern grills do have some interesting features, like temperature control for better and faster cooking.
One of the main advantages of grilling is that it requires very little fat (if any at all). Therefore, if you have an opportunity, you should use this method to cook meat, which usually becomes extremely unhealthy when fried. But you shouldn’t overdo it with grilling. While some people have a fondness for charred steak, remember that this kind of cooking might cause dangerous compounds to form as proteins and fats in meat get heated up.
Healthy Cooking Methods: Conclusion
In healthy eating, how you cook matters as much as what you cook. Therefore, you should choose your cooking methods and equipment with care. Frying and boiling might seem like easy choices, but they are also the ones that fill your foods with excess fat or literally boil out any nutrients.
Steaming, grilling, pressure cooking and microwaving are definitely much better options for making healthy foods that truly contain the nutrients they should.