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What is the way to cook vegetables that keeps most of the nutrients?

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4 Answers

I prefer the microwave oven - you can cook vegetables in the quickest time in the minimum amount of water.

More taste even than steamed veg!

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It depends upon the vegetable in question, the nutrients one desires to obtain from it, and the digestive capacity of the person (or, if you're considering cooking for your pets or livestock, animal) eating the result.

Take carrots, for instance. As this article discusses, "boiling and steaming better preserves antioxidants, particularly carotenoids, in carrots, than frying, though boiling was deemed the best." Also, "cooking carrots increases their level of beta-carotene." Yet, "The downside of cooking vegetables is that it can destroy some of the vitamin C in them. The reason is that Vitamin C, which is highly unstable, is easily degraded through oxidation, exposure to heat (it can increase the rate at which vitamin C reacts with oxygen in the air) and through cooking in water (it dissolves in water)."

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Generally speaking, steaming is best as the nutrients largely remain in the vegetables. Boiling them leaches the nutrients out into the water.

Of course, for maximum nutrition, don't cook them at all!

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Cooking does eliminate a certain amount of nutrients but it also generally increases their bioavailability; most of the time you're not doing yourself any favour by eating food raw, unless you prefer the taste or texture that way. –  Aaronut Apr 23 '11 at 21:16
    
@ Aaronut - While probably true, there is not a great deal of long term science on the whole "bioavailability" story. Every body is different, so there is not one diet recipe for all. Just studing the for GI levels for different diabetics you can see the huge variance. One man's poison is another man's cake! –  TFD Apr 24 '11 at 11:50
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@TFD for real? I see at least 13,500 studies related in some way to this topic. It's rather well-studied if your aim is to do specific research (as opposed to making generalizations like "cooking destroys nutrients"). –  Aaronut Apr 24 '11 at 18:37
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If you're sweating about losing some nutrients, consider eating more of the vegetables in question to make up for this supposed deficit.

Nobody ever suffered malnutrition because they cooked their veg instead of eating them raw.

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People have definitely suffered malnutrition because of overprocessing their food (see e.g. the story of beri beri and vit. B). There are indispensable nutrients which are destroyed by high temperatures (e.g. vitamin C), plus, for a given food, not every molecule and its effect on the body is known. So trying to keep as many of these as possible is a good idea. "eat more of the vegetables" isn't such a good advice, because after destroying some vitamins but none of the calories or trace minerals (which have an upper limit), you don't do your health any favors when eating more. –  rumtscho Apr 24 '11 at 12:52
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