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Why Steaming Vegetables Is Healthier Than Boiling

boiling-vegetablesby Janel Ovrut, M.S., R.D., L.D.N.

Claim: "Boiling vegetables removes some nutrients. Steaming them is better."
Verdict: True.

Many of the nutrients in vegetables can leach into the water when boiled. And the longer the vegetables are cooked, the more nutritional value is lost.

Cooking them quickly and in a small amount of water helps preserve some of their water-soluble vitamins. Therefore, the healthiest ways to cook vegetables are microwaving, steaming and stir-frying.

If you do boil vegetables, here's a tip: Get back those leached nutrients by using the water in a soup, sauce or stew.


HOW TO STEAM IF YOU DON'T HAVE A STEAMER

If you don't have an electric steamer:

  1. Place your vegetables on a metal steam basket in a large pot with about 2 inches of boiling water. Steam until slightly tender.

    OR

  2. Lay some inexpensive forks in the bottom of your pot with enough water to boil but not to cover the forks. Put the vegetables on top of the forks and steam.


When it all boils down, (pun intended), a vegetable is still nutritious no matter how you cook it. But for the best health benefits, microwaving, steaming or stir-frying is the way to go.


JANEL OVRUT, M.S., R.D., L.D.N., is a registered dietitian working in corporate wellness in the Boston, Mass., area.

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Article last updated and/or approved: March 2010. Originally appeared in September/October 2009 former print magazine.

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Comments (4)add comment
0
Microwaves quick but not completely unhealthy
written by kazeshindo , September 20, 2014

I cannot completely agree with Alex and Chigunduru. I don't believe that microwaves are an unhealthy way of creating steamed vegetables. Although, microwave uses radiation to heat food substance, it only decreases the nutrients somewhat.

By heating, burning, or boiling vegetables you are losing nutrients in some form or the other. When you are microwaving the food, in this case, vegetables, the microwave will emit electromagnetic radiation for a short period of time (depending on how long you are planning to steam it). Heating water using radiation is the same as heating it on the stove. It just causes the water molecules to move faster. However, in this case, the microwave have a shorter time period to steam vegetables so it should be better than using a stove. Shorter time to steam vegetables mean that less nutritional components are lost/destroyed.

Of course, this is simply my opinion so I whatever I say can't be hundred percent correct. After all, I am no expert in the field of radiation and nutrition.

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When I steamed kale, the boiling water become green
written by Kevin , July 02, 2014

Doesn't mean that some of the nutrients went with it?


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Steam is the Healthiest Way
written by Alex , April 30, 2014

I disagree of using microwave being healthy. Personally, i think steaming foods are indeed the healthiest way.
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microwaves are not good
written by Chigunduru , January 29, 2014

I don't agree with your claim that microwaving food is healthy. a microwave is one of the worst things you can have in your kitchen. it will totally destroy any nutritional components of food.
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