How do You Want Your Vegetables – Raw, Boiled or Steamed?

Almost all of us are bombarded by our health experts as to how to have our vegetables. Some say, having them raw is the best – that’s why we have salads, don’t we? Some say, having them boiled is good while some say steaming our veg is much better when compared to boiling them. So, all these suggestions by our well esteemed health experts might make us wonder as to how important is it to consider the scientific aspect of cooking food when compared to its chemical aspect.

Having Your Vegetables Raw

  • As far as nutritional values are concerned, they are at their maximum when the vegetables are raw. So, one can easily say, for better nutrition, consume raw vegetables. But not always, do raw foods have to be essentially nutritious and safe to consume. Let us look at a couple of examples regarding nutrition and safety of consuming raw vegetables.
  • Tomatoes, are rich sources of vitamin A and beta carotene when consumed raw. Boiling tomatoes depletes the A vitamin and beta carotene from the tomato but, a pigment called lycopene is brought out from inside the tomato’s cells upon cooking; lycopene is known to lower the risk of heart attacks and cancer.
  • But then again, some vegetables like the fava beans, yams, nuts, legumes and casava can be harmful when eaten raw. There is also a fatal condition (called favism) that is known to arise from consuming raw fava beans.

I’m not saying don’t have your vegetables raw but, only don’t have all the vegetables raw.

Boiled Vegetables

  • Let us take the example of  tomato again. Boiling, as mentioned earlier, brings out the pigment lycopene which is very useful for preventing cancer. But this comes at the price of losing vitamin A and beta carotene.
  • But most people prefer boiling vegetables a bad idea. This is owing to the fact that, boiling destroys the enzymes and nutrients present in the veg. For instance, boiling sliced vegetables is especially considered to be a bad idea, as the minerals and vitamins present in the veg are absorbed by the water leaving nothing on the vegetable as such.
  • So, one of the things that most chefs do to maintain the the nutrition value and crunchiness of vegetables despite boiling is to blanch them. Boiling the vegetables in simmering salt water for not more than a minute keeps the nutritional value while keeping the vegetables crunchy.

Now Comes Steaming

  • Both steaming and boiling are known to bring out the anti-oxidants of the vegetables; these anti-oxidants are useful for fighting the free radicals in our body. When compared to boiling though, steaming is considered to be much more beneficial. The disadvantages associated with boiling are minimized with steaming.
  • For instance, in boiling nutrients from the vegetables are absorbed by the water with none left on the vegetables as such, steaming minimizes this loss. Also when compared to boiling, steaming cooks the entire vegetable (when boiled, there is a chance that just the outer part of the veg remains cooked). Steaming also minimizes the chance of overcooking.

The point to note from here is that no process perfectly stores the nutrients available in raw vegetables. But all, raw; boiled and steamed vegetables are an essential part of a balanced diet. Prefer vegetables, boiled or steamed over fried junk food and you will find out that health is wealth and you don’t need to waste your wealth on nutrition therapies.

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