Friday, May 23, 2008

Eat Your Veggies- One Way or Another

We all know (or should by now) that vegetables are good for you. There are lots of studies out there linking eating lots of veggies with lower rates of heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, cancer, and other health problems. What we aren't so clear on, is the way to prepare them for the maximum good stuff (nutritional value also depends on growing, processing, and storage).

Water-soluble nutrients - often lost in processing
  • vitamins C and B and polyphenolics
  • anthocyanins- red and blue pigments
Fat-soluble compounds - less lost in processing
  • vitamins A, D, E and K
  • carotenoids (including lycopene -found in tomatoes and other red vegetables)
Processing also breaks down tough cell walls of plants, making nutrients inside more accessible.

  • Cooked spinach- 64 % less vitamin C than when fresh
  • Canned peas and carrots- 85 - 95 % less vitamin C than when fresh
  • Boiled Carrots, zucchini and broccoli- more carotenoids than steaming, frying or raw (but less polyphenols than raw)
  • Vegetables served with fat-rich foods or dressing- absorb much more lycopene, lutein, and beta carotene than when eaten plain (or with low-fat dressing)
Instead of agonizing over how to eat your veggies, a better approach would be to eat lots of them in different ways. If you like carrots raw but not cooked, eat a different vegetable cooked. Try new ones of all different colors and textures, and try many different ways. If you like to dip veggies in dressing, go right ahead.

Just eat your veggies.

(Info courtesy of Finding the Best Way to Cook All Those Vegetables - New York Times)

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