Tips to preserve nutrients while cooking vegetables

Foods enriched with antioxidants, vitamins and minerals are vital for boosting our immunity. Colourful and green vegetables are a crucial source of these nutrients, but the compounds can be lost if not cooked right.

Vegetables are a good source of Vitamin C. The best way to retain Vitamin C in vegetables is to steam them. This preserves other food nutrients, too, including carotene, Vitamin B, phytochemicals and so on. Follow a few tips to retain nutrients while cooking vegetables.

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*Cut vegetables in big pieces to avoid loss of nutrition in contact of light and air.

* Wash before cutting or peeling. Don’t wash or absorb vegetables in water again after cutting or peeling. It depletes the vegetables of Vitamin B or C.

*Certain vegetables including potato, sweet potato, radish, and carrot can be cooked with skin. Tomato, broccoli, onions, carrots can be eaten raw to get more nutrients.

* Use a sharp knife as blunt knives will affect Vitamin C.

* Do not keep vegetables in the open for long after cutting as riboflavin is destroyed in the sun. Try cutting them just before cooking.

*Use pots with lids to cook fast. It will allow less time for the food to come into contact with oxygen and will retain Vitamin C and carotene.

*Try using less water in cooking.

*Try to cook fast as longer cooking time damages Vitamin C. But do not cook in high heat.

*Vegetables cooked with less oil retain carotene. This helps the body absorb the fat-soluble vitamins.

*Don’t use baking soda for cooking vegetables as they harm Vitamin C, thiamine, riboflavin and folic acid.

* After cooking, try eating as soon as you can to make the most of it.

* Nurun Nahar Dilruba is a nutritionist and a teacher at the National University, Gazipur.

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