(CARLSBAD, CA) – Broccoli. Cauliflower. Carrots. Fish. Foods packed with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. You’re careful about what you put on your plate. But, is that enough?
The latest research indicates that what you put on your plate is just part of the nutritional picture. The other part is how you prepare these foods. How do your favorite methods of cooking rank?
Steaming (A+) Steaming tops the list with an A+ for preserving a maximum amount of vitamins and minerals in foods. The steamer basket keeps the food from intermixing with the water, so nutrients can’t be washed away. In fact, steam can even help to melt off some of the food’s excess fat. Try steaming vegetables, chicken, or fish for your next meal. Increase the flavor of your steamed foods by adding some spices to the finished product.
Stir-frying (A) Typically used for Asian-style dishes, the stir-fry method gets high marks for both nutrition and flavor! Stir-frying involves cooking vegetables or other foods with a small amount of oil at a hot temperature. Try peanut or canola oil in place of vegetable oil to increase the health benefits of your meal even more. Just be sure to cease cooking before the oil starts to smoke.
Grilling (B-) It’s one of America’s favorite pastimes, grilling hot dogs, hamburgers, or thick, juicy steaks on the barbecue. And while grilling doesn’t add saturated fats or unnecessary oils to your dinner, charred foods can contain unhealthy HCA and AGE chemicals, which increase your risk for a myriad of diseases. These bad chemicals don’t form on grilled vegetables, however, so go ahead and roast that corn on the cob on your barbecue.
Boiling (C+) While boiling may seem like a healthy option, and it’s certainly better than frying food in a vat of grease, it ranks mid class. That’s because nutrients from food can be zapped into the water when boiling. Try steaming or grilling vegetables instead. Or if you just can’t give up your boiling habit, then get more of your food’s full nutrients by drinking some of the broth.
Microwaving (C) A controversial cooking method for years, microwaving has become hugely popular due to its convenience. But, before you decide to “nuke it” for your next meal, consider that healthy antioxidants can be destroyed when zapping your vegetables in the microwave.
Deep-frying (F) Deep-frying gets a failing grade for adding bad fats and empty calories to your food. An order of French fries can be enjoyed as an occasional treat, but the saturated and trans fats involved in this cooking method should be avoided for most meals.
So, the next time that you practice your Iron Chef craftsmanship, try making the grade with one of the top scorers above. Of course, one of the best ways to ensure that you get 100% of your foods’ nutrients is to avoid cooking at all. Eating raw fruits and vegetables is the best way to be sure that no vitamins or minerals are lost in the cooking process.
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