If you were asked to name the most important nutrients in vegetables, you would surely think of vitamin C, E, B6, magnesium, and potassium. These are the most common nutrients in vegetables. Vegetables are common parts of most animals or humans’ food. The original purpose is still widely used today and is even used to label plants together with other nutrients to indicate all edible vegetable part, such as the leaves, stems, fruits, roots, and even seeds.
Nutrients in Vegetables
There are a number of benefits to eating fresh. Aside from having more vitamins and nutrients, you also get to enjoy freshness as it lasts much longer than canned or frozen vegetables. However, there are people who do not prefer to eat fresh. They want their foods to be ready as soon as they open the package. This is where frozen vegetables score over fresh.
Having high nutrient contents doesn’t mean that your food is unhealthy. In fact, there are a lot of benefits to having a nutrient-dense food such as fruits and vegetables. If you are planning on starting a healthy eating pattern, it would be a good idea to start out with vegetables. If you want a good start, go for dark green leafy vegetables like spinach, broccoli, cabbage, kale, mustard greens, turnips, and swiss chard. Canned or frozen green beans are also good options.
Because some nutrients are destroyed during the canning and shipping process, it would be best to purchase them fresh and make your own home-cooked raw veggie recipes. One of the best ways to incorporate raw vegetables into a healthy eating pattern is to bake or steam them. This allows you to retain more of the nutrients without losing flavor or texture.
Another good way to incorporate more raw vegetable recipes into your healthy diet is to mash them. Mashing is very good for introducing protein into your diet. It also helps to reduce the amount of fat in your meal. Try cooking vegetables like potatoes, carrots, squash, onions, and garlic with a shred of cheese on top. Add nutritional yeast, flaxseed oil, or probiotic yogurt for a nice, flavorful touch. You can eat the cheese as a snack or in a salad, or you can mash it up and serve that along with the vegetables.
The problem with cooking vegetables in a microwave is that overcooking them tends to reduce their nutritional value. To retain their nutritional value, choose mild steaming and baking vegetables. Cook vegetables in water that has been brought to a boil but not simmering. If you want to minimize loss of nutrients in vegetables while steaming, use a lid-fitted microwave that seals the water in. Avoid placing uncooked vegetables in the microwave.
Microwaving also results in loss of nutrients in many vegetables. Often the temperature of the water used in boiling is greater than the one at boiling temperature. So, the more water-soluble vitamins are lost in the steam. Choose lightly steamed, tender vegetables when using a microwave and stay away from heavily steamed vegetables or cooked meats when using microwaves.
Steaming is probably the healthiest way of cooking vegetables. It results in maximum nutritional benefit because most of the nutrients are preserved. Steaming also prevents loss of vitamins A, C, and E during cooking. But it is not practical to cook all your vegetables in one go. You should alternate cooking methods so that your body gets an equal amount of nutrients in each food. This way, you are ensured of good health throughout the year.
Vegetables, especially steamed ones, retain less nutrients when overcooked. In such cases, boiling your vegetables helps in retaining the vitamins and other micronutrients. However, cooking methods such as boiling, baking, or broiling also destroys most of the nutrients. You can maintain the vitamins and other micronutrients in raw vegetables by steaming or frying them. Cooked vegetables retain only the minimum amount of nutrients compared to steamed vegetables.
Besides retaining nutrients, steaming also offers several health benefits. One of its best benefits is that it prevents the formation of toxins in the digestive tract. Toxins form in the gut as a result of improper diet, exposure to pesticides, pollution, drugs, and other environmental factors. By boiling vegetables, the toxins formed are reduced. Proper nutrition also ensures that the intestines are able to process food properly and absorb the nutrients present in the vegetables.
However, while you consume steamed vegetables, you should make sure not to overcook them. Steaming them for about five minutes ensures proper nutrition and absorption of nutrients. Properly steaming your vegetables will ensure that you get all the vitamins and other micronutrients that your body requires.