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Boost the Nutritional Value of Your Fruits and Vegetables

Some fruits and vegetables are actually healthier for you when they are cooked. We often hear that raw foods are always the healthiest choice, because they contain more vitamins and minerals, however that
is not always the case. As Lori Corbin, the food coach on ABC news tells us last week, some foods are actually richer in nutrients when they are cooked.

Cooking vegetables that are high in fat soluble vitamins like D, E, A and K will actually increase their nutritional benefits. For example, researchers have found that the availability of lycopene in tomatoes and beta carotene in carrots is boosted when they are heated.

In most cases, the vegetables should be steamed, lightly roasted or baked in foil to preserve nutrients, as boiling will cause loss of nutritional value. Except in the case of carrots, they should be boiled until tender.

The cookware that you use to prepare your food is also very important. Aluminum and non-stick surfaces can leach chemicals that are harmful to your health into the food. Cast iron, stainless steel and glass are the healthiest choice.

We are often told that we should always eat fresh fruit and vegetables in order to obtain the highest level of nutrients possible. However, did you know that frozen vegetables and fruits may actually contain more nutrients than the fresh ones you are buying at the grocery store?

It is true, if you are going out into your garden and picking your fruits and vegetables fresh and eating them immediately, then they will be much higher in nutritional value than frozen. Unfortunately, most of us don’t have our own gardens. We rely on the grocery store to get our food.

Fresh vegetables and fruits begin to lose their nutritional value as soon as they are picked. The longer they sit around on a shelf, the less nutritious they become. By the time they are picked, packed, shipped and make it to your shelf, they have lost a significant amount of nutrients.

Vegetables and fruits that are frozen may actually be higher in nutrients because they are picked and frozen shortly thereafter. The process of freezing, locks in their nutritional value. So don’t be hesitant about including frozen veggies and fruits in your meals.

Canned vegetables are less desirable, because the can leaches metals into the food as well.

Last, but not least, be sure to buy organic. Organic produce has been found to be significantly higher in a variety of nutrients like vitamin C, calcium, magnesium, iron and phosphorus. As a matter of fact, in one study, all 21 nutrients being assessed were found to be higher in organic foods than the conventional crops. Not only that they are void of harmful cancer-causing, endocrine disrupting pesticides.

Resources:
ABC7 News, Lori Corbin, Health Coach Segment,2010
Medical News Today, Organic foods in relation to nutrition and health key facts, July 11, 2004

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