How to preserve vitamins in vegetables

Posted on 2015-01-29 22:23:05

You love eating vegetables but are you are getting the best of their vitamin value? Often, the process of preparation, cooking and storage can remove essential vitamins from vegetables hence reducing their nutritional value. In order to retain vitamins in your vegetables, you must ensure that they are handled properly at each stage. Here are the tips to get you started. Choose the best vegetables; when at the grocery store, pick vegetables that are fresh. Fresh vegetables are crispy, bright in color and feel firm to the touch. If possible buy vegetables that are in season as they are at their best not only in terms of prices but also have guaranteed freshness. Fresh vegetables are plenty in nutrients than older ones. Also go for vegetables that are orange or dark green in color as these usually contain higher amount of vitamins. Storage; it is advisable that you buy just enough vegetables to last you for a day or two. The longer you store vegetables, the fewer nutrients they have. Alternatively, you can have them frozen if you are not planning on eating them soon. Freezing helps stop nutrient loss in a food up to the time it is thawed. Washing; Always wash vegetables before you cut them. This ensures that water-soluble vitamins such as vitamin C and B-group do not get lost in the water used for washing. Surface exposure; Avoid exposing vegetables as much as possible. Things like water, heat, and air can destroy vitamins starting at their surface. Cut vegetables into large pieces as opposed to smaller pieces as this helps keep as much nutrients as possible during cooking. The smaller the pieces you cut, the greater the surface area hence the more the nutrients are lost. You can always cut vegetables into your preferred smaller sizes after they are cooked. In addition, avoid vegetables that have been pre-cut. Pre-cutting exposes them to air which depletes them of their nutrient value. For those who like buying pre-cut vegetables from vegetable vendors be warned as you may be robbing your body of essential nutrients. Do not overcook vegetables; most vitamins, particularly water-soluble are very sensitive to heat, thus they can be easily destroyed during cooking process. The more intense the heat and the longer the cooking time, the more the nutrient loss. Avoid cooking vegetables to a point where they change their color. Vegetables with vibrant color contain most vitamins and without a doubt tastier. Use appropriate cooking methods; the lesser the heat, cooking time and water, the more nutrients are retained in vegetables. Steaming and microwaving are the best methods for cooking vegetables as they are fast and prevent leeching out (loss of nutrients in water during cooking) of essential nutrients. Another option is to stir-fry your vegetables as this method is also fast and low in water. If you have to boil vegetables, do so in water that is already boiling to avoid leeching out of more nutrients. Any water used during cooking contains vitamin excrement of whatever is being cooked. Therefore, do not discard the water and instead use it to prepare stocks, soups or add it in other foods to help you consume those vitamins which would otherwise have been lost if the water had been discarded. Always cook with the lid on the cooking pot; the steam generated helps speed up the cooking of vegetables and at the same time vitamin content is held inside the pot. Eat raw vegetables; this helps you obtain most vitamins and in their most natural state as there are alterations made to the vegetables. However, fat-soluble vitamins i.e. A, D, E and K require some amount of oil for them to be available. Your body needs vitamins for optimal health, achieve this goal by ensuring that your vegetables keep most of vitamins. By Dr Rebecca Muthoni Earlier published on The Daily Nation ( )