How to get the most out of your foods?
9th October, 2016
With such an array of fresh meat and produce in Australia there is so much opportunity to obtain a variety of vitamins and minerals from your food. However, one of the main concerns with vitamin and minerals found in foods is that some of the nutrients are destroyed in the process of cooking. Some cooking methods can also leach the minerals and nutrients out of the foods.
The majority of minerals in food are not affected by heat. Whether cooked or raw, food has the same amount of calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, iodine, zinc, iron, selenium, copper, manganese, sodium and chromium. The only exception is potassium which is not directly affected by heat; however it escapes from foods into the cooking juices.
Some great sources of minerals found in foods are listed below:
Calcium - Cheese, salmon and sardines, yoghurt, milk, tofu, legumes, dark green leafy vegetables and tahini
Chromium - Whole grains, liver, beef, mushroom and legumes
Copper - Liver, shellfish and oysters, tomato paste, chestnuts, almonds, cashews, olives, walnuts, beef, mushrooms and legumes
Folate - Green leafy vegetables, lentils and other legumes
Iodine - Cod, yoghurt and seaweed
Iron - Liver and organ meats, red meats, green leafy vegetables, tomato paste
Manganese - Wholegrain flour, raisins, brown rice, pineapple, barley, buckwheat, blackberries, raspberries, hazelnuts and Brazil nuts
Magnesium - Whole grains, green leafy vegetables, muesli, almonds, cashews and legumes
Potassium - Bananas, tomato paste, vegetables, fruits and their juices, legumes, dried apricots and dates
Selenium - Brazil nuts, poultry, whole grains, shellfish and fish, cashews, eggs, garlic and broccoli
Zinc - Oysters, shellfish and fish, red meat, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds walnuts, almonds, muesli, tomato sauce and paste
Many vitamins are sensitive and easily destroyed when exposed to heat, water, air or cooking oils with the exception of vitamin K and vitamin B3 which are stable in food.
Great sources of vitamin rich foods are:
Vitamin A - Organ meats, cod liver oil, poultry, cheese, egg yolk and cream
Vitamin B1 (Thiamine) - Rice bran, wheat germ, oat bran, pork and wholegrains
Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin) - Liver, beef, fortified cereals, poultry, dairy and soy milk
Vitamin B3 (Niacin) - Liver, red meat, fish, poultry, pork, peanuts and legumes
Vitamin B5 (Pantothenate) - Peanuts, organ meat, avocado, hazelnut, mushroom and sunflower seeds
Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine) - Muesli, liver, tuna, sunflower seeds, lentils, kidney beans, avocado, banana and nuts
Vitamin B12 (Cobalamin) - Liver, kidney, poultry, fish, eggs, dairy and soy milk
Vitamin C - Red capsicum, Brussel sprouts, kiwi, mango, oranges, broccoli, cabbage and strawberries
Vitamin D - Salmon and sardines, eggs and butter
Vitamin E - Soybean oil, almonds, sunflower seeds, walnuts, cashews, avocado and brown rice
Vitamin K - Cauliflower, liver, tomato, spinach, green beans, soybeans and broccoli
So what methods can you use while cooking to try and reduce the loss of vitamins?
Leave the skin on vegetables as most of the vitamins and nutrients in vegetables are found in the skin and outer leaves. So try and leave the skin on your potatoes and carrots. Just gently scrub them with a brush and some water to keep the vitamins intact.
Steaming: Can be used for cooking anything from fresh veggies to fish fillets. This form of cooking allows proteins and produce to stew in their own juices and retain all their natural goodness. Shorter cooking times for your vegetables help maintain their nutrients and colour.
Tip: When steaming only add the vegetables once the water has begun to boil and steam is present.
Cut your vegetables into large pieces: This helps reduce vitamin loss, because there is less surface area exposed when they are cooked.
Grilling: In terms of getting maximum nutrition without sacrificing flavour, grilling is a great option. It requires minimal added fats (such as butter and oil) while keeping meats and vegetables juicy and tender.
Obtaining adequate essential vitamins and minerals from your food is beneficial for general health and wellbeing. So when making a meal ensure you’re choosing foods with the right amount of vitamins and minerals for your needs as well as considering the best cooking method for those food types.