Every day the media bombards us with the information concerning the much needed consumption of vast amounts of fruits and vegetables, abundant with all sorts of nutrients. If you have decided, like I did, to finally say no to all the fast food restaurants and pastry shops, and give a healthy lifestyle a go, it’s a good thing to get acquainted with the fruit and vegetable preparation processes, so that none of the vitamins nor minerals would not be lost. After all, those are what got us turned to a healthy diet in the first place.
Vitamins and minerals make an integral part of a diet, so by inadequate processing and storage of the fruits and vegetables most of them can easily be lost. Here are a few pointers you should hold on to, if you want to keep all those nutrients in place.
When you come home from a grocery store or a marketplace, fruits and vegetables need to be taken out of the plastic bags that they came in because those don’t allow the food to „breathe“ properly. Shelf life of fruits and vegetables that we put in the refrigerator can be extended for a few days if wrapped in plain newsprint to absorb possible moisture, but also to allow the airflow. Naturally, one should keep in mind that not all fruits and vegetables are conserved equally. We should never put a potato or an onion intothe refrigerator, but tomatoes, cucumbers, watermelon, pineapple and softer foods alike, with a higher water percentage,should always find a way into one.
Most of the fruit and vegetable nutrients are lost due to the thermal treatment. However, that doesn’t mean that the only solution should be going full out raw. There are some tricks as to how we can serve deliciously prepared vegetables to ourselves and to our dearest, all the while not impinging the vitamin and mineral quantities.
The best way for vegetable treatment is to steam the dish, which completely preserves the nutritive values, but often we are not able to consistently apply such a method of treatment. If we boil the vegetables we should look out for the amount of water we put into the pot. It takes just as much water as to cover the vegetables and to allow for an evenly cooked dish. By pouring out the excess amounts of water afterwards, we are also pouring out all the nutrients that dissolved from the vegetables, especially the delicate vitamin C.
While frying, the vegetables need to be dipped in the hot oil for the shortest amounts of time possible. The only vegetables that grease does well are carrots and tomatoes. By adding oil to the carrots, a larger amount of beta-carotene is extracted, essential for the skin and eye health. Only 2% of beta-carotene is extracted from a raw carrot, and the number tenfolds with thermal processing. The same goes with the tomato. A boiled tomato contains 30 times more lycopene than a raw one.
Most of the nutrients are lost due to the process of food conservation. Specifically, due to this process 6% of tocopherol, 42% of beta-carotene, 35% of retinol and 83% of vitamin B-1 is lost, whereas by freezing the fruits and vegetables only 25% of vitamins is lost.
Fruit is still best consumed fresh because each of the processing models, for example, cakes, compotes and syrups, adds a large amount of sugar, which in turn nullifies its benefits.
Fruits and vegetables are definitely an integral part and a foundation to a healthy diet, but in the selection one should keep in mind the ways in which the contained nutrients can be best utilized.