More Health and Nutrition Bites

Take-out vs. made-from-scratch: weighing and pricing the options 05/23/18
How NOT to do science: very low carbohydrate diets and Type 1 diabetes 05/16/18
Low energy density foods keep you satisfied (and may help you lose weight) 05/09/18
Fish also good for diabetics: confirming conventional wisdom 05/02/18
Putting calories and sodium information on restaurant menus may backfire 04/25/18
The next step in the fight against heart disease: teaching medical students how to cook 04/18/18
Omega-3 supplements may not guard against heart attack 04/11/18
Pasta still won't make you gain weight 04/04/18
Testing resveratrol and curcumin as anti-inflammatories 03/28/18
Should you consume additional protein to help maintain muscle mass? 03/21/18
It's the quality of the carbohydrates that counts 03/14/18
B vitamin supplements linked to lung cancer 03/07/18
Genetically-based weight loss plans 02/28/18
Eating more highly processed foods linked to greater risk of cancer 02/21/18
Can you be fit and fat? 02/14/18
'Burning hot' tea linked to esophageal cancer 02/07/18
All Health and Nutrition Bites


Preschoolers eat more veggies with dip
Parents, you know how hard it can sometimes be to get your preschooler to eat vegetables. One study estimates that they average as little as 1/2 serving or less per day! Even using a combination of strategies like repeated tastings, peer influence, and pairing new flavors with familiar ones can come up (nearly) empty when it comes to eating more vegetables.

How to get pre-schoolers to eat more vegetables
A few months ago I shared a study that illustrated one way to get kids to eat more vegetables: hide the vegetables in other foods by adding pureed vegetables to foods like zucchini bread, pasta with tomato sauce, and chicken noodle casserole. 

Does washing fruit and vegetables remove the pesticides?
This is a challenging question and I will admit that over the last few years I have personally been moving more and more toward consuming organic products. There is clear evidence that consuming organic products leads to a decrease in pesticide consumption.


Health & Nutrition Bites

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Cooking Methods and Nutrients

CeleryA couple of weeks ago I responded to an Ask Dr. Gourmet question about microwaving. The letter writer was concerned because she'd been told that microwaving fresh vegetables "destroyed up to 95% of the nutrients." I responded by saying, essentially, that there is some bad news/good news here: the bad news is that all cooking processes affect the amount of nutrients in foods. The good news, however, is that microwaving actually affects nutrient loss the least.

I posted a link to two studies on the subject. Today's Health and Nutrition Bite is one of them, from the Journal of Food Science (2009;74(3):H97-H103).

Vegetables (along with fruits) are an important part of the diet because of their high levels of antioxidants - molecules that essentially help stop the process of cellular damage. This cellular damage has been connected to illnesses such as heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer's disease and diabetes. We've discovered that antioxidants in pill form may actually be harmful - making it even more important that you eat your veggies. Researchers in Spain experimented on a variety of vegetables by testing them, fresh and uncooked, for their antioxidant activity, then cooking them in various ways and testing them again. The cooking methods and vegetables they tested were:

Cooking Method

Boiling until tender
Microwaving without added water
Pressure-cooking (with water)
Deep-frying in olive oil to crisp-tender
Griddling (sauteing with no added oil or water)

Vegetables Tested

Broad Bean (fava bean)
Brussels Sprouts
Green Bean
Bell Pepper
Swiss Chard

Generally speaking, as I said in the Ask Dr. Gourmet question, microwaving the vegetables without added water affected the vegetables the least. The cooking methods that affected antioxidant activity the most negatively were boiling and pressure-cooking, although boiling beets, garlic, and green beans did not meaningfully affect their antioxidant properties.

Carrots, celery, and green beans actually increased their antioxidant activity after any type of cooking, and artichokes did not seem affected, positively or negatively, by any of the cooking methods tested.

What this means for you

The real question here, for me, is why worry about what cooking method is going to affect the vegetables the most? It's far more important to eat them: cooked or uncooked, vegetables are great for you and no doctor is going to tell you to eat fewer vegetables. Cook them however you like them, just eat them!

First posted: January 23, 2013