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Boiling of Vegetables - Does it destroy nutrients?

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I've heard that boiling vegetables can destroy or significantly reduce the nutrients in them. Is this true?

And if so, does that make the vegetables 'empty calories'?

Also I was wondering if microwaving food does the same thing...

8 Replies (last)

Water-soluble nutrients can be leached out and then poured down the drain if you boil vegetables (or anything else).  Steaming or microwaving doesn't do that, there's no surrounding water for the nutrients to escape into (maybe a few in steam, but hardly enough to matter).

Simply heating vegetables (or anything else) could destroy some amount of nutrients, but it could also liberate some by breaking up structures that your body can't break down by itself.  That's going to vary considerably, I'd expect, depending on what the particular item you're heating is.

Leaching out nutrients doesn't make anything "empty calories", it just makes them less nutritious.  Consider a tablespoon full of sugar, or lard - hardly any nutrients, but still plenty of calories.

I have heard that steaming is the best way of cooking vegetables because boiling causes the nutrients to seep into the water and microwaving just nukes them - haha I don't know exactly but microwaving is supposed to be bad for that. No matter what, though, vegetables are not considered 'empty calories' because they still retain a certain amount of their nutrients.

I've heard just the opposite about microwaving! In an interview with Jillian Michaels she said that microwaving is best for keeping nutrients intact. Also, if you don't get your veggies from the farmer's market or co-op that frozen are better options because the freezing process locks in nutrients and the "fresh" veggies in the produce section have lost a lot in their travels from farm to store.

I think it is probably your average grocery store veggies you want to stay away from, actually - the ones that have been shipped across the country - sometimes across the world - to make it there.  They are the ones whose nutrients will be drained the most.  Next best is local foods, which are usually the ones you'll find at co-ops and farmer's markets.  They'll be much fresher, and therefore contain more nutritious.  Ultimately, though, the most nutritious fruits and veggies you can go with is organic - or even local organic (though that can be really hard to find).  Many studies have been done that have proven that organic foods are actually more nutritious than non-organic.  I really don't know about the frozen veggies thing.  I have trouble believing that a bag of frozen veggies is better for you than some organic veggie that had been picked that morning.  Maybe she meant better frozen than shipped across the country?

(Sorry if I jumped on your comment, aczinder, I don't mean to belittle it or anything.  I'm currently doing a really big project on farming and agriculture and the food thing...relates to it.  A lot.  Lol.)

Original Post by happygirl619:

I have heard that steaming is the best way of cooking vegetables because boiling causes the nutrients to seep into the water and microwaving just nukes them - haha I don't know exactly but microwaving is supposed to be bad for that.

Nope.  Some people are paranoid about microwaves, but all they do is make the water molecules jiggle fast to heat stuff up.  There are very few nutrients that should be affected by microwaving. 

You have to do your own research on this subject and decide what is best for you. Minerals are generally unaffected by heat. A few of the B vitamins are destroyed by heat. Some things can be better absorbed if the food is cooked. Draining the water can be a loss. 

My feeling is that is good to consume a mixture of cooked and raw foods, because each will have its benefits.


PS Microwaving has nothing to do with "irradiation," and just heats the water molecules that are already in the food.

I only boil potatoes, but otherwise I steam. I never use the microwave- the quick-cook methos just can't be good, plus the radiation isnt good, and microwaving in plastic is just terrible, not to mention the food just doesnt taste nearly as good :P

So I stay away from it, and cant remember the last time I used it....


But raw is usually best...the only example to contradict that would be the lycopene in tomatoes being useless to the body unless cooked, but watermelon and guavas are much better sources of lycopene anyhow

Thanks everyone for replying.

; it seems that there is alot of debate about this topic... I've tried doing some research but again got various answers.

But I guess whatever the truth, it's a balance of everything from raw veg to cooked. It's kinda sad cos I absolutely go crazy over cooked broccoli and it doesn't taste as good raw but oh well :p always gotta try something new.

Thanks everyone!

8 Replies