News flash: There are plenty of ways to cook up juicy and flavorful food without adding tons of unnecessary extras. While most people know to ditch the fryer when cooking up healthy meals, many don't think about how their cooking method affects the nutritional make-up of their entr?e.
Heat can break down and destroy 15 to 20 percent of some vitamins in vegetables—especially vitamin C, folate and potassium. And as you'll see below, some methods are more detrimental than others. This is why raw foodists cut out cooking altogether, claiming that uncooked food maintains all of it's nutritional value and supports optimal health.
But other studies suggest certain foods actually benefit from cooking. With carrots, spinach and tomatoes, for example, heat facilitates the release of antioxidants by breaking down cell walls, providing an easier passage of the good guys from food to body.
Nuking may be the healthiest way to cook because of its short cooking times, which results in minimal nutrient destruction. Microwaves cook food by heating food from the inside out. They emit radio waves that "excite" the molecules in food, which generates heat, cooking the food.
While microwave cooking can sometimes cause food to dry out, that can easily be avoided by splashing the item with a bit of water before heating, or placing a wet paper towel over the top of your dish. Regardless, the way that microwaves cook food nixes the need to add extra oils (bonus points!).
The best part is, you can microwave just about anything, from veggies and rice to meat and eggs (and studies suggest it may just be one of the best ways to preserve nutrients in veggies). Just make sure to use a microwave-safe container. Interested in getting an extra-big dose of vitamin C? One study suggests microwaving broccoli is the best way to preserve the C in our favorite green veggie.
Boiling is quick, easy, and needs nothing but water and a touch of salt. Oh, and whatever food you're cooking. But in addition to the high temperatures, the large volume of water dissolves and washes away water-soluble vitamins and 60 to 70 percent of foods' minerals.
While this method can dissolve vitamins and minerals in some foods (especially vegetables), research actually suggests boiling could be the best way to preserve nutrients in carrots, zucchini and broccoli (when compared to steaming, frying, or eating raw).