Same foods – different food values

How you prepare a food can have a huge effect on how nutritious it is. Did you know, for example, that the lycopene in a tomato is more easily available to your body if the tomato is cooked?

Not only are there some foods that need to be cooked to be safe, there are others that need to be cooked to be nutritious! There are others that should not be cooked or they will lose

their food value. Some foods lose all nutrients in processing, and some keep most of them.

Frozen vegetables, for example, are generally nutritious because they are frozen fresh from the field and haven’t had a chance for vitamins to degrade. The same is true for meat and fish. If they sit out a long time, nutrients can degrade. A mealy apple has less vitamin C than a fresh one.

Here are more examples. Tomatoes are quite nutritious from the can for example. Also, garbanzo beans! They retain almost all of their vitamins. Many fruits and vegetables aren’t so lucky, and a Google search is more than worthwhile.

Let’s return to our mealy apple. Brown spots on any fruit or a vegetable is a sign of vitamin C loss. With some foods, such as garlic, long boiling just makes nutrients disappear. That’s why it’s a good idea to add those items to stews last.

Steaming is a great way to prepare food. Quick but intense heat is good, too, and proper stir frying helps food keep both the nutrients and the flavor. Fresh food combined with steaming and grilling is usually a great way to go. Also, with vegetables and fruits, the fresher the better. That brings us back to freezing. Frozen vegetables may have added salt, so reading labels is important, but they are usually a good buy.

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