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Healthy Ways to Enjoy Vegetables

Updated on February 12, 2013

Vegetables are a good source of fiber, phyto-nutrients, anti-oxidants, vitamins and minerals. They have low calories, too. We can eat them as often as we like without worrying of your weight loss plans.

While they are truly nutritious; their nutrients deteriorate during preparation and cooking time. Because of this, it’s important we learn the healthy ways of cooking vegetables.

The nutrients in vegetables may be affected by water, heat, air and fats.

Many vegetables decrease their nutritional contents when cooked; others tend to amplify it. For instance, green beans, carrots and those others rich in beta-carotene and lycopene increase their anti-oxidant properties when heated. On the other hand, broccoli, spinach and bell peppers are heat-sensitive. These vegetables diminish their nutritional value when cooked.

To get most of their nutrients, we need to know the healthy ways to cook them.

Some vegetables are eaten raw. These vegetables are usually found on salad bars. Some of these healthy vegetables include lettuce, cucumbers, cabbages for coleslaw, yardlong beans, celery, carrots, bell peppers, tomatoes, onions, and so on.

In this case, the healthy way to eat them is to rinse them thoroughly. Vegetables and fruits for that matter, with thin skin especially need to be wash under running water. The better way to go with these kinds of vegetables (and fruits) is to go organic.

This makes sure you don’t eat the toxic pesticides and insecticides that growers use to produce them. Organic produce are more expensive than non-organic ones. If you’re on a budget, buy only the organic vegetables and fruits with thin skin. Onions, for instance have thick layers. You can opt to buy them non-organic.

Vegetables rich in Vitamins B, C and E need to be cooked very fast. Their nutrients diminish fast with heat. If you’re cooking with proteins like chicken or pork, the healthy way to cook vegetables is to add them last. From the hardest texture to the leafy green ones.

The healthy ways to cook vegetables include steaming, baking and grilling.

Boiling vegetables, on the other hand, tends to lose the most nutrients. If you need to boil vegetables like asparagus and broccoli, don’t leave them for more than 5 minutes in the pan. Make sure the water is already boiling hot when you put them in. The moment they change into their brighter green colors, take them out and let them cool.

Some say that microwaving vegetables is another healthy way to cook vegetables since the nutrients are sealed in while cooking. I however, don’t cook much with microwave because of the possible radiation it emits. I would rather cook vegetables the traditional way, which is under fire.

Vegetables remain nutritious and healthy after cooking.

It’s not like all their nutritional value evaporates with air, heat and water.

We simply need to cook them properly (not poorly) to retain most of their nutrients.

A good indication that your vegetables are not over-cooked is the "crunch". If you hear a snap when you bite them, you did a good job cooking your vegetable.

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    • beingwell profile image

      beingwell 4 years ago from Bangkok

      Thanks peggy! I use veggies in soups, too. I try to add them last so they'd retain most of their nutrients. Sometimes, we can't help but really cook our veggies, though. Oh well, that's good too; we still get the fibers from them, in any case.

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 4 years ago from Houston, Texas

      We love vegetables raw as well as cooked. I love to add loads of veggies into my homemade soups. That way if some of the nutrients are lost in the cooking process, you might pick up some of them in the broth. If boiling other veggies, some chefs propose keeping the broth to use when cooking rice and pasta. That way you are adding some extra nutrients back instead of using just plain water. Might also give it a bit of a flavor boost depending upon which vegetable was boiled. Good hub! Voted up and useful.

    • beingwell profile image

      beingwell 5 years ago from Bangkok

      Thanks very much @ME!

    • MargaritaEden profile image

      MargaritaEden 5 years ago from Oregon

      Very useful and interesting hub beingwell, voted up and shared!

    • beingwell profile image

      beingwell 5 years ago from Bangkok

      Same here lasertek!

    • beingwell profile image

      beingwell 5 years ago from Bangkok

      I enjoy leafy green vegetables more. They're very eat to cook. I can have a decent meal in 10 minutes. :)

    • Redberry Sky profile image

      Redberry Sky 5 years ago

      Wow, great that you mention veggies where cooking *improves* the nutrition - I usually try to lightly cook my veg or eat them raw, but I love slow-cook casseroles, so I'll make sure I add plenty of carrots and beans next time :)