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Expert reveals whether it's healthy to boil vegetables

Expert reveals whether it's healthy to boil vegetables Photo: Vegetables - boil or not (freepik.com)

Many people wonder if boiling vegetables is beneficial and which cooking methods are best for preserving nutrients, reports Livestrong.

Are Boiled Vegetables Healthy?

Cooked vegetables are often more enjoyable to eat than raw ones, and they are easier for the body to digest. However, cooking vegetables does alter the nutrient content.

For some vegetables, cooking can make nutrients more accessible. In other cases, you may lose nutrients in the process. It all depends on the cooking method.

Regardless of how you cook vegetables, their nutrient content is likely to change.

"The question of whether you should boil vegetables is not a simple yes or no answer; it depends on various factors. Any form of food preparation is likely to result in changes in vitamin content," says certified dietitian Sarah Shlichter.

One factor to consider is whether the vegetables you are cooking contain fat- or water-soluble nutrients.

According to the National Cancer Institute, water-soluble vitamins such as vitamin C and B vitamins (including folate, thiamine, riboflavin, pantothenic acid, etc.) dissolve in water.

This means that during boiling, these nutrients leach into the water, and after cooking, vegetables retain fewer of them. Vegetables rich in water-soluble vitamins include mushrooms, sweet potatoes, spinach, broccoli, and sweet peppers.

In a study published in the journal Food Science and Biotechnology in April 2018, it was found that boiling vegetables such as broccoli, Swiss chard, potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, spinach, and zucchini removes more water-soluble vitamins than any other cooking method.

Interestingly, although beta-carotene (a precursor to vitamin A) is not water-soluble, the study also showed that boiling reduces the beta-carotene content in carrots.

Scientists suggest that this is likely related to the high temperature of boiling, as beta-carotene is sensitive to heat.

When to boil vegetables

If you are boiling vegetables in water or broth that will be used in a soup, it's not a problem because you still get vitamins from the liquid.

One advantage of boiling vegetables is that you don't need to add extra fat during cooking, which can be a healthier option for some. Boiling is an excellent cooking method for those trying to reduce fats in their diet, such as oils.

Cooking methods to preserve nutrients

Although boiling is convenient, there are other cooking methods that preserve nutrients.

Other cooking methods for vegetables, besides boiling, include:

  • Microwave

  • Steaming

  • Roasting

  • Grilling

Previously, a dietitian explained how to eat in winter to maintain health.