How to Prepare Vegetables Properly
By Sara Zipf
Eating plenty of fresh vegetables is essential for getting all the vitamins and minerals that your body needs. However, the way in which you prepare your vegetables can have a large impact on how much of these nutrients you actually end up consuming.
By properly preparing your vegetables, you can boost your antioxidant levels and nutrient intake for a healthier immune system. So, before you start chopping, cooking or eating, think about prepping your veggies differently – not just to improve taste and texture, but also to make the most of the nutrients they provide.
Shred Your Veg
When you cut and slice vegetables, it disturbs the cells inside them, and changes the balance of nutrients. By shredding cabbage and lettuce instead of cutting them, your vegetables can actively retain more polyphenols – an essential chemical found in many vegetables, including lettuce, cabbage, zucchini, carrots and parsnips. Polyphenols provide antioxidants which help to protect the body by keeping your cells healthy and protecting against the effect of free radicals. A diet that is rich in antioxidants reduces the risk of many serious illnesses, including heart disease. We advise that you refrain from using store-bought shreds, and rather shred your own vegetables using a knife. Home-shred cabbage and lettuce will be more cost-effective and stay fresher for longer.
Cut After Cooking
Most people cut their veggies before cooking, but the reversed sequence of cooking your vegetables before you cut them can be more beneficial in extracting the necessary nutrients. For example, carrots contain polyacetylenes – an essential group of anti-inflammatory chemicals that have been shown to reduce the risk of cancer. Whole carrots end up having higher levels of polyacetylenes than if the carrots were cut before cooking. This is due to the polyacetylenes that leak out during the cooking process.
Eat Quickly or Refrigerate
Have you noticed how many vegetables turn brown after you’ve chopped them? This can be attributed to the process of oxidisation, whereby fruit and veg produce melanin – the same pigment that changes the colour of our skin when it’s exposed to the sun. However, oxidisation also reduces the levels of vitamin C in your fruit and veg, which is why we recommend eating them as soon as possible. Alternatively, make sure that you quickly refrigerate your fruit and veg to slow down the oxidisation.
About the Author
Sara Zipf has worked in a wide range of restaurants and cafés. She is currently a full-time mom and freelance writer who enjoys experimenting with a plant-based lifestyle.