Will boiled vegetable water have vitamins in it?

04 February 2020

BOILING_POT

A pot of boiling water on a stove

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Question

Will boiled vegetable water have vitamins in it?

Answer

We asked physiologist Sam Virtue about this culinary conundrum...

Sam - Well, the answer is there will be some nutritious things in the water. We all need in addition to protein, carbohydrate and fat that we eat in our diet, a range of vitamins and minerals. Vitamins are broken down into two large classes, water soluble ones and lipid soluble ones. And the water soluble ones will leech out of the vegetables and into the water and so they will be in the water. Now it's not perfect because some vitamins get broken down by heat. So the most famous one of these is vitamin C where if you boil anything containing vitamin C, it will be destroyed. And it was actually an Arctic expedition, which went terribly, terribly wrong because they had taken vitamin C, they had understood they need it. But to preserve it, they boiled all the vitamin C and they all got scurvy drinking their boiled lime juice. So there will be something there

Chris - Why did they boil it and not freeze it? It would have been the obvious thing!

Sam - I don't know. It's a good question. Probably because they needed to get it from somewhere warmer down to the Arctic. But yeah, that would have been a good point. I would say there's a word of caution with this because the amount of vitamins in the water you've boiled will be relatively low compared to your vegetables ,and if you're a fan of cookery shows, you will see the all the chefs on them, dumping piles of salt into the water to make their boiled vegetables taste great. So I was looking at the nutritional information on some vegetable stock and it was going to get you about 3% at most, of the most rich vitamin in it of your daily requirement and it would for the same volume, 46% of your sodium. So probably best to eat the vegetables. You can always use it as a nice tasty vegetable stock for cooking with.

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