If you are going to cook your food, here are the golden rules for maximum nutrition
Throughout Grow Youthful I have emphasised that cooking your food reduces the nutrient content. Hot, long, dry cooking, so typical of modern kitchens is the most damaging to your food. It destroys all the enzymes in the food, making it harder to digest. It creates toxic, sometimes carcinogenic chemicals that make you ill and speed up your aging. It destroys many nutrients, and leaches others out of the food.
The golden rules for healthy cooking (particularly vegetables) are:
- Keep it short. Most people overcook their vegetables. Keep them crunchy and green with as short a cooking time as possible.
- Keep it wet. If they are wet, then the cooking temperature can't be above boiling point.
- Keep it cool. Keep the temperature down. High temperature ovens and super-hot hotplates are not used in any traditional diet. Crisped browned and blackened foods are not healthy foods, containing a variety of toxic compounds, particularly acrylamide. This also applies to protein foods like cheese, meats and eggs, as well as carbohydrate foods like breads and pastries.
- Add salt after cooking, not before. Salt tends to leach the water out of any vegetables you are boiling, making them limp. Rather, cook them quickly and then add the salt once they are out of the water. They will retain their 'crunch', you'll need to use less salt, and the salt will have a stronger flavour being on the surface of the vegetable.
- If you blanch vegetables in boiling water, when they have finished cooking plunge them in cold water for a few seconds to bring down the temperature and stop the cooking. This has the added advantage of making them look attractive, enhancing their green colour.
Boil your potatoes whole
Now a study (1) shows that you can safeguard the nutrients in your mashed potatoes by boiling them whole. If you cut them into pieces and boil them, many of their nutrients are leached into the water. For example, their potassium content is slashed by as much as 50 percent. Other important minerals were shown to be lost - magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, iron, and zinc.
The research showed that roasting, baking, or microwaving whole potatoes did preserve most of the potassium and other minerals. But bear in mind, as I mentioned above, that these methods are more likely to damage other heat-sensitive nutrients.
Remember that potatoes are a poor source of nutrition. Don't kid yourself that they count as a vegetable. Rather, they are the basis for much of the fast and processed food industry, and act like a refined carbohydrate. A high-potato diet is likely to raise your blood glucose level, eventually raising your blood insulin level, and so make you sicker and older. To minimise this effect, cook your potatoes whole, with the skins on. Eat them with olive oil or butter, which will significantly lower their glycemic index, and the spike they cause in your blood-sugar level.
1. The effects of boiling and leaching on the content of potassium and other minerals in potatoes.
Bethke, P. C., Jansky, S. H., Journal of Food Science 2008 Jun;73(5):H80-H85.