Nutrition Expert Reveals: How to Preserve Nutrients While Cooking Your Veggies

Published 8:30 am Sunday, March 12, 2023

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  • To preserve the nutrient content of your vegetables, wash them before chopping, cut them into large chunks, and avoid buying pre-cut vegetables.

  • When cooking your vegetables, avoid using too much water, don’t wait too long after chopping, and avoid reheating meals whenever possible.

  • To maximise the nutritional value of your meals, make vegetable stock with excess water, peel root vegetables after cooking, and use fresh herbs to season your dishes.

Cooking may be a chore, but it’s extremely important to ensure that we get proper sustenance. By following these tips carefully laid out by Benjamin Bowers, an exercise and nutrition expert from, you can rest assured that you will squeeze out as much nutritional value as possible from each of your veggies and meals.

1. Preparing Vegetables

Incorporating vegetables into every dish is a very effective way to up the nutrient content in your diet as they are rich in vitamins, minerals, and fibre. However, you may lose some of that nutritional value during preparation. To avoid that, here are some tips you can use while preparing your vegetables.

Wash Before Chopping

The first step in preparing fresh vegetables is washing them to remove dirt and potential contaminants. Washing the vegetables before you start chopping them up ensures that the dirt goes down the drain, not the nutrients.

Chop into Large Chunks

Another way you can preserve the nutrients is to chop them into bigger chunks. Bell peppers, for example, are full of vitamin C which is very sensitive and oxidises if it comes into contact with air. Therefore, the bigger the chunks, the less surface area of your vegetables comes into contact with air, which results in more nutrients.

Don’t Buy Pre-Cut

To maximise the nutrient content of your vegetables, consider buying fresh or frozen produce, instead of pre-cut vegetables that may have already lost some nutrients in the packaging process. If you end up with a bunch of vegetables you can’t use up before they go off, freeze them as soon as possible to preserve their nutrient content.

2. Cooking Techniques

When you’ve chopped up your produce, it’s important to cook them in a way that preserves their nutrient content.

Don’t Drown Your Vegetables in Water

Boiling vegetables in excessive water can cause significant nutrient loss, with some vegetables losing up to 50% of their vitamin C content. You may also reduce the amount of thiamine, or vitamin B1, in peas, asparagus, and beans. Therefore, if you have the means, consider steaming or roasting your vegetables instead.

Don’t Wait Long After Chopping

Additionally, to minimise nutrient loss, make sure to prepare your vegetables as soon as you chop them. The longer they’re exposed to oxygen, the more nutrients they can lose.

Avoid Reheating Meals

Though meal prepping is taking the world by storm, the best option is to always consume your meals as soon as you make them. Reheating food, especially in the microwave, can damage sensitive vitamins like B and C. If you must reheat food, do so gently and for as short a time as possible to minimise nutrient loss.

3. Maximising the Nutrition Content

Despite your best efforts, some nutrient loss is unavoidable. Fortunately, there are some strategies you can employ to retain as many nutrients as possible in your meals.

Make Vegetable Stock

A simple way to maximise the vitamin density of your meals is to use the excess water from boiling the vegetables and grains to make vegetable stock. Freeze the stock and add it to future dishes for added flavour and nutrients. Don’t forget to season the water properly to enhance the flavour of both your vegetables and the stock.

Peel After You Cook

When boiling root vegetables such as potatoes and beets, peel them after they’re done cooking to prevent nutrient loss. This allows the nutrients to migrate to the centre of the vegetable and reduces the chance of them escaping into the cooking water. Alternatively, if you need to peel before cooking, use the peelings to make a quick and nutritious snack by frying them in a tablespoon of organic oil.

Don’t Cook at High Heat

Many vitamins and minerals are sensitive to heat. The best examples are vitamins C and B, as well as fat-soluble vitamins like A, D, E, and K. Therefore, avoid cooking food for prolonged periods of time and cook at lower temperatures to prevent nutrient loss.

Use Fresh Herbs and Vegetables

To increase the vitamin and mineral content of your meals, try seasoning them with fresh herbs. Like many green vegetables, herbs are high in vitamins A, C, and K. Garnishing your meals with herbs will not only make them look more appealing, it will also make them more nutritious. Also, consider adding a bowl of fresh vegetable salad dressed with olive oil vinaigrette to your meals. This can help you feel fuller for longer while providing additional micronutrients and fibre.

Bowers concludes: “It is important to preserve the nutrients in our food as much as possible to ensure we get the most out of the ingredients we use to prepare our meals. By following the tips above, you can immensely increase the nutritional value of your food and ensure that you are getting the sustenance you need to lead a healthy and fulfilling life.”