QotW: Can overcooking food make it healthier?
Listener Kelvin got in touch to ask "We are told not to overcook our vegetables because this kills the nutrients. Now if that's the case, why don't we just overcook the food we enjoy and not run the risk of putting on weight?"
This week, we're turning up the heat, as Adam Murphy’s been looking into Kelvin’s question: "We are told not to overcook our vegetables because this kills the nutrients. Now if that's the case, why don't we just overcook the food we enjoy and not run the risk of putting on weight?"
Adam - Wouldn’t that be nice, cook out anything unpleasant and just eat whatever you want to? Sounds too good to be true, which of course, means it probably is, so to bring us back to Earth Here’s Alex White from the British Nutrition Foundation...
Alex - When food is overcooked, it is certain vitamins that are affected and not the calorie content. This means that overcooking food will not reduce the risk of putting on weight, which is to do with the number of calories you eat and would instead reduce the amount of some vitamins that are being eaten. When looking to lose or maintain weight, it is important to focus on managing the calories, that you eat, and trying to be active every day!
Adam - And calories are just a measure of energy, and if you want to get energy from your food (as well as all the nutrients you need), you can’t just bake them out
Alex - With nutrient loss when cooking, it is the water-soluble vitamins, the B vitamins and vitamin C, that are most affected. This is because, being soluble in water, they pass more easily into the water that the food is being cooked in than fat soluble vitamins like vitamin A and vitamin D. Cooking vegetables is one example where vitamin loss can occur, as vegetables are a source of these vitamins, but are often boiled. But we can limit the loss of vitamins by not boiling the vegetables for too long, using less water when boiling or by changing the cooking method by steaming instead of boiling vegetables.
Adam - So don’t boil your broccoli, steam your swedes
Alex - However, the losses in vitamins when cooking food is small and as far as we know doesn’t affect our health and therefore the focus should be making sure to eat more fruit and vegetables, however they are cooked. We should be going for 5 A DAY, every day!
Adam - And as CliffordK points out on the forum, there’s another downside to overcooking. Eventually you just end up with a lump of charcoal, which isn’t very nutritious. Thanks to Alex for giving us food for thought, next week we’re looking at Alan’s cool question…
Alan - I have heard it said many times that no two snowflakes are the same. Given the billions and billions of them that have fallen to Earth, this really does seem unlikely. Since nobody has looked at them all, would you agree with me that the only thing to be said with any certainty, is that no research has ever found two the same?