How To Keep Nutrients In Your Food

You can buy all the healthy food you want, but if you prepare it wrong, you lose all the nutrients.

Fruit and Vegetables image via Shutterstock

                                                      Fruit and Vegetables image via Shutterstock

Air, light, water, acid, alkali, heat, time, and enzymes can all make fruit and vegetables lose nutrients. But all of these things can either be minimized or accelerated depending on how long the food took to travel to your table, and how it was preserved, prepared, and cooked. The way you choose, store, and prepare foods makes all the difference. In fact, it doesn’t take a lot of effort to significantly increase your nutrient intake. Here are a few of the ways you can do it:

1. Eat Local
The longer fresh fruit and vegetables have to travel from the farm to your fork, the more vitamins and minerals will be lost along the way. This is due to exposure to the elements and the enzymes involved in the ripening process. There are many options for eating local in Boston including choosing a produce delivery from Boston Organics, which sources “as close to home as possible” when you choose their “Dogma Box” option. You can join a CSA, visit one of the many local farmer’s markets, or grow produce yourself in your backyard or on your roof. Nonetheless, eating local in New England can be frustrating in March when most of the produce available is from California and Florida, which leads us to number two.

2. Choose Frozen Produce
Commercial, frozen fruits and vegetables are often “flash frozen” either right on the farm or nearby, which almost brings the ripening process to a halt and preserves precious vitamins and minerals. Of course, there are a variety of frozen produce options available in the supermarket year round, but you can also save some money by doing the freezing yourself. If you have the time and space, blanch (quickly submerge in boiling water and remove) and freeze vegetables, and rinse and freeze fruits when they are in season—and cheapest.

3.  Microwave instead of boiling to steam vegetables
The longer produce is exposed to heat, the more vitamins and minerals are lost. Since microwaving reduces cooking times, it is a good option for preserving nutrients. Also, because vegetables are submerged in water during boiling, additional nutrients are leeched into the surrounding water. Boiling also tends to make vegetables like Brussels sprouts more bitter, another good reason not to boil.

4.  Don’t peel
Nutrients are highly concentrated in the skin (and just under the skin) in most fruits and vegetables. If you toss the peel, you are missing out on the most valuable part of the fruit or vegetable.

5. Blend instead of juicing
This may not be the most popular recommendation based on the number of passionate juicers we’ve encountered lately, but next time you juice, take a look at what is left behind. Often it is the skin and the other vitamin and mineral rich parts of the fruit or vegetable. Throw that handful of kale in a blender with chunks of frozen or unpeeled fresh fruit, add water, and blend. You’ll get all of the vitamins and minerals, but also fiber, which will slow digestion and keep you fuller longer.