Anyone who is on a diet should know that to lose weight, you must eat fewer calories than your body uses. This doesn’t necessarily mean you have to eat less as certain foods like fruits and vegetables are known to contain low calories.
The water and fibre in fruits and vegetables adds volume to your dishes, so you can eat the same amount of food with fewer calories. They’re also naturally low in fat and can fill you up.
But did you know that the method of cooking actually matters more than you think? The wrong cooking method may cause a loss of nutrients and vitamins as well as be useless in your weight loss journey.
To understand more about the topic, we asked HealthifyMe’s Lead Nutritionist Melanie Anthonysamy for more information. Keep reading to find out how the cooking method matters and which cooking methods could be good for weight loss.
Boiling your vegetables could lead to nutrient loss
Boiling is one of the widely used methods for cooking vegetables. Not only is it easy and convenient, but no oil is also used in the process so there’s lesser calories and no fat.
But you may be cooking your vegetables wrongly if you’ve been boiling them. Anthonysamy explains that water-soluble nutrients such as vitamin C and B can be lost during the boiling process which affects the nutrient availability in vegetables after cooking.
Care must be taken when boiling vegetables, especially regarding the time and amount of water used. This is to ensure that the vegetables are cooked optimally, leading to less nutrient loss while also preserving texture and flavour.
It also severely reduces effects of anti-cancer components
Many commonly consumed cruciferous vegetables come from the Brassica genus family such as broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, and more.
They are known for their cancer-fighting properties and nearly all are excellent sources of vitamins C and K, folate, potassium, fibre, and magnesium.
According to Anthonysamy, what’s unique about cruciferous vegetables is that they are rich in glucosinolates which are sulfur-containing compounds that are responsible for their pungent aromas and spicy or bitter taste.
She also says that boiling in particular has been found to severely reduce the effect of the anti-cancer components of these vegetables as compared to other cooking methods.
Spinach needs to be cooked at high temperatures
It’s no secret that spinach is packed with nutrients – think Popeye the Sailor Man. Just a bite of spinach contains fibre, vitamin A, C, and K, iron, folate, and potassium.
Anthonysamy mentions that spinach is loaded with oxalic acid which can prevent the body from absorbing iron and calcium from the vegetable. Therefore, spinach must be cooked at high temperatures to break down the oxalic acid to increase iron and calcium absorbability.
In this way, the cooking method can influence the nutrient availability. She recommends that spinach be blanched in hot water for a minute and then immediately transferred into cold water and then drained to ensure its nutrients are not lost.
Cooking methods for vegetables that will help in weight loss
Since we’re always looking out on ways to curb our calories, we had to ask Anthonysamy to recommend us some ways to cook our vegetables so we can definitely lose pounds.
Spinach is not only low in calories but is also a nutrient powerhouse and a versatile vegetable. She recommends sautéing or blanching it to turn them into delicious purees and smoothies. Another versatile vegetable, broccoli is high in fibre and most suitable roasted or steamed.
Squash is low in fat and calories and high in fibre which helps keep our body to feel full for longer. Therefore, it is a great alternative ingredient to use when cooking conventional spaghetti dishes, so you can bake squash spaghetti with vegetables.
Sweet potato is higher in fibre than their white potato counterpart and is naturally sweet and a versatile vegetable. Suggested dishes include roasted sweet potato bowl, sweet potato pizza, and sweet potato hash.
These vegetables can be cooked or boiled for a long time
After everything, that’s not to say vegetables can’t be cooked or boiled for a long time.
Anthonysamy explains there are many vegetables that need to be cooked for a longer time to increase availability and absorbability of nutrients for the body.
Harder vegetables such as carrots, parsnips, pumpkin, turnips, and yams can be cooked for as long as 12 to 15 minutes as it helps to soften the vegetables and retain its nutrients.
So, if you’re too tired after a long day of work, you can certainly pop some carrots into a pot and wait for them to be done while watching your favourite dramas.
Every vegetable has their own efficient method of cooking that will allow for better nutrient absorption and contribute towards weight loss.
Just eating your favourite vegetables may not be sufficient for weight loss, but this means that it’s time to look into the best ways to cook them and retain nutrients – which also means you can experiment with new recipes.
Or you could go the quick and easy route and continue to boil your vegetables but be sure to pick the ‘right’ vegetables to boil so you’ll gain all those nutrients.
We certainly can’t wait to feel healthier and happier after these diet changes.
Featured image credit: SafeFood