How To Protect The Nutrient Content of Foods While Cooking

How To Protect The Nutrient Content of Foods While Cooking

Cooking improves digestion and increases the absorption of a large amount of nutrients,  however, some vitamins and minerals may decrease.

The key to protect the nutrient content is the way we decide to cook.

What are nutrients

Nutrients are the substances that our body process to help it function. The amount of portion required depends on factors including your age, growth stage and activity. Nutrients are really small and the eye cannot see them.

There are two categories of nutrients: macronutrients and micronutrients.

The first are carbohydrates, protein and fats, that provide energy to our bodies, so as to move and function.

The second are vitamins and minerals, such as Calcium, Iron, Vitamin C, that are substances that our bodies require in small portions for healthy growth and disease prevention.

The most important macronutrients and micronutrients are divided into six groups…

  1. Protein
  2. Carbohydrates
  3. Fats
  4. Vitamins
  5. Minerals
  6. Water

food triangle

Eating a balanced diet full of fruits, vegetables, proteins, fats, and whole grains is the right way to get as much nutrients as our body needs. Micronutrients and macronutrients are vital for our body to function and stay healthy.

In conclusion, we could say that nutrients are chemical combinations that our body cannot produce in an adequate quantity by itself.

How to cook!

Boil, simmer and poach…

Usual methods of healthy cooking are boiling, simmering and poaching.

The only thing that differs is the water temperature:

  • Poaching requires less than 82°C (180°F).
  • Simmering, 85–93°C (185–200°F).
  • Boiling 100°C (212°F).

Vegetables are one of the most important source of vitamin C, but a big portion of it is lost while cooked.

As a matter of fact, when boiling  broccoli, spinach and lettuce  may lose up to 50% or more of their vitamin C. Boiling reduces more than any other cooking method, vitamin C.

Vitamin C  and B dissolves in water and are quite sensitive to heat, as they can leach out in hot water.

At about 60% of thiamin, niacin and other vitamins B might be lost when meat is stewed and its juices run off.

However, when consuming the liquid containing these juices, all the portion of minerals and 70–90% of vitamin are conserved.

In contrary, boiled fish preserved omega-3 fatty acid content remarkably more than frying.



Steaming is the best cooking for preserving nutrients, including vitamins that dissolve in water and are sensitive to heat.

It is found that steaming broccoli, spinach and lettuce reduces vitamin C content only by 10%.

The only negative is that steamed vegetables may taste bland. However, this is easy to change by adding a little seasoning, oil or butter after cooking to improve the flavour.

Tips during cooking

How to reduce nutrient loss while cooking:

  1. When poaching or boiling use water as little as possible.
  2. After cooking vegetables, consume the liquid containing the juices left in the pan .
  3. If possible, don’t peel vegetables at all to maximize fibre and nutrient density.
  4. Cook vegetables in small amount of water to reduce the loss of vitamin C and B.


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