How cooking affects antioxidants

We hear so much about the health benefits of antioxidants. And many of us actively try to squeeze as many of the cancer-fighting, cell-supportive nutrients into our diets as possible.

Fruits and vegetables are the out-and-out champs when it comes to antioxidant content, but what happens when we cook them? Does microwaving zap the advantages? Does boiling burst the benefit bubble or boost it? And are there particular fruits and veg that make the pan-to-plate journey with their antioxidant power intact?

According to research published in The Journal of Food Science, a team out of Spain revealed these food findings:

- Griddle cooking (using a flat metal pan and no cooking oil) or a turn in the microwave maintain the highest levels of antioxidants.

- Boiling and pressure-cooking drained the most nutrient potential out of vegetables, especially peas, cauliflower, and zucchini.

- Green beans, beets, and garlic withstood most cooking methods, losing little of their antioxidant content no matter how you cook them.

- Cooking green beans , celery, and carrots actually boosted their antioxidant availability.

- Artichoke kept its very high levels of antioxidant throughout all cooking methods.

The study didn’t make mention of steaming, one of the easiest and most common ways people prepare vegetables. I looked back at some research from a few years ago that compared steaming to boiling. Across the board, the vegetables tested got a considerable antioxidant upswing when steamed. For example, carrots’ antioxidant received a 291 percent boost from steaming and only a 121-159 percent boost from boiling. Green cabbage and sweet potatoes saw a jump of over 400 percent!

On a side note, that same study mentioned that peeling apples and cucumbers decreased their antioxidant content by around 50 percent.

Related information

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Crack the fruit and vegetable colour code
Brain food for thought
Antioxidant supplements

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