A lot of us is trying to eat right. We read labels and pick the healthiest food possible. But how do we make sure that most benefits of the food are preserved and even multiplied by using appropriate cooking methods?
The way we preserve food and cook it impacts the nutrient content. The best way to eat most of the fruits and vegetables is raw, straight from the source. But most of the time it is not realistic.
Cooking in any form can destroy nutrients in food, but for high-fiber vegetables and meats it can actually make nutrients more bioavailable, and easier to digest. Appropriate cooking techniques can destroy or remove parts of the plants that can be harmful to us.
The best cooking methods rely on the least amount of time, low liquid, and low heat to retain nutrients in food.
When cooking with fats and oils, pick the right one according to the temperature you need to prepare the meal. Fats and oils heated beyond their smoke point can be harmful. To find out the smoke point of your favorite oils, check the label or go online to find it.
Preferred cooking methods are:
- Simmer: cooked at 185-200 F (83-95 C). Used for sauces, stews, soups, and tough cuts of meat.
- Poach: cooked at 180 F (82 C). Used for eggs, poultry, fish to prevent drying the food.
- Steam: food cooked very gently over boiling water without touching it. Very gentle way to cook and preserve moisture in the food. No cooking fat is involved in this preparation, so to absorb fat-soluble vitamins, the meal has to be served with some sort of fat/oil, like butter, olive oil, avocado, ghee, etc. Simmer in a covered pot to preserve nutrients.
- Slow cook: usually in a liquid, over low heat for an extended period of time.
- Boil: in boiling water for a moderate amount of time. Most of the nutrients leak out into the cooking water, so don’t discard it, eat as a soup, stew, or broth. boil in a covered pot. Making soups and stews is a good way to maximize the nutrient content of your food.
- Microwave: quick process for water-based food. Use as a heating method for food that contain oils and fats. Only glass or ceramic containers! No plastic!
One of the greatest insults to nourishment in our modern, fast-paced, and processed food culture is the high heat at which so much of our food is cooked.
- We deep fat fry at 350-450 degrees;
- We fry on the stovetop in shortening and vegetable oils right up until their smoke points of 375-450 degrees;
- We barbecue with gas grills that can reach temperatures of over 1000 degrees!
This exposure of food to high heat may be convenient and quick, and it may fill the air with aromas that we savor, but it is dangerous to our health!
Meat cooked at high temperature contains greater levels of compounds called advanced glycation end products (AGEs) that cause more tissue damage and inflammation than foods cooked at lower temperatures. AGEs irritate cells in the body, damage tissue and increase your risk of complications from diseases like diabetes, cancer and heart disease.
Fried and roasted vegetables, like potatoes, corn, and nuts contain a toxic substance called acrylamide, a nerve-damaging and cancer-causing compound.
High temperature cooking causes oxidative stress, inflammation, and insulin resistance, that affect the inner linings of blood vessels, and are associated with the development of the hardening and narrowing of the arteries.
Grilled or well-done beef, chicken, or fish may raise the risk of developing high blood pressure among people who regularly eat those foods:
- 17% higher in those who grilled, broiled, or roasted more than 15 times/month,
- 15% higher in those who prefer their food well done, compared with those who prefer rarer meats. 
Yes you can bake and roast using dry heat, but at a lower temperature.
The same goes for frying and grilling. Sauté first, then put food on a grill or frying pan for the shortest possible time to prevent overcooking and burning.
No matter which method you choose, be careful not to overcook food to the point it is soggy, mushy, burnt, or rubbery. This is a sign that the beneficial nutrients in your food are likely gone.
For more advice on healthy living please schedule an appointment with Dr. Koganski at
215-750-7000 or at www.newtowninternalmedicine.com
Grilling and other high-temperature cooking may raise risk of high blood pressure
American Heart Association Meeting Report – Poster Presentation P184 – Session P02
March 21, 2018 Categories: Heart News, Scientific Conferences & Meetings