Many raw foodists, vegans and nutritionists warn of the supposed perils of boiling your vegetables. ”You cook it you kill it” is a common phrase amongst raw vegans meaning that by cooking your vegetables for a period of time kills the vegetables nutritional value. Even the more moderate opposers to boiling vegetables say that you should only boil them if you are going to consume the cooking water such as soups and broths. It can be argued that there is no need to boil vegetables as there are so many other methods to cook and consume them. Some other ways to cook vegetables are Roasting, frying, steaming, grilling and blanching to name but a few.
So the question remains, is boiling vegetables as bad as people say? As with most things the truth may lie somewhere in between. Firstly, fruits and vegetables contain Large amounts of antioxidants. Antioxidants are substances that may prevent or delay some types of cell damage. Included in the list of antioxidants are Beta-carotene, Lutein, Lycopene, Selenium and vitamins A, B, C.
20 types of vegetables were tested by boiling them and measuring the amount of antioxidants before and after the process. It was found that in general boiling the vegetables only decreased the amount of antioxidants by 14%. Most of the antioxidants lost had leached in to the water and remained there.
Once again it is not as straight forward as that, vitamin C for example is a delicate vitamin that not only get destroyed over time but also get destroyed with heat. Here is a list of nutritional elements and whether they are affected by heat.
- Vitamin A: Relatively stable when exposed to heat
- Vitamin D: Unaffected by heat
- Vitamin E: Unaffected by heat
- Vitamin K: Unaffected by heat
- Thiamine: Destroyed at temperatures greater than 100ºC
- Riboflavin: Unaffected by heat
- Niacin: Unaffected by heat
- Biotin: Unaffected by heat
- Pantothenic Acid: Can be destroyed by heat
- Folate: Can be destroyed by high temperatures
- Vitamin B-12: Unaffected by heat
- Vitamin C: Can be destroyed by heat
Its worth noting at this point that I am not a doctor or qualified nutritionist and therefore this is not medical or dietary advice. When it comes to boiling vegetables it seems that it is not as bad a some people would have you believe. Yes it is advisable to drink the water the veggies have been boiled in to recuperate some lost nutrients. Or you could add 14% extra vegetables to your cooking pot.
Maybe the best advice would be to not always boil your vegetables. Instead, vary your cooking methods from dish to dish. One day you may steam your broccoli, the next day you may oven roast your carrots and so on. there are so many ways to cook vegetables there is no reason to always boil them. Different methods of cooking also give the vegetables different textures and flavours so a variety of cooking methods keeps things interesting and exciting in the kitchen.
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