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Home » Nutrient Preservation in Cooked Vegetables: What’s the Secret?

Nutrient Preservation in Cooked Vegetables: What’s the Secret?

  • Food
Using Baking Soda for Nutrient Preservation in Cooked Vegetables.

Raw vegetables are packed with essential nutrients like vitamin C and enzymes, which are highly heat-sensitive. This sensitivity poses a challenge for nutrient preservation in cooked vegetables, as the cooking process often leads to the degradation of these vital components, a significant concern for health-conscious individuals. While cooking indeed renders vegetables softer and enhances their flavor, striking a balance by preserving their nutrients is equally important.

1. Using Baking Soda for Nutrient Preservation in Cooked Vegetables

A novel method is the use of baking soda. This method is beneficial because baking soda reduces both the cooking time and the required heat. The primary objective in cooking vegetables is to soften cellulose, the plant cell wall, which is naturally tough. Raw vegetables owe their crunchiness to this cellulose. Upon heating, the cellulose structure loosens, making the vegetables softer and aiding in nutrient absorption.

Introducing baking soda into the cooking water accelerates the softening of cellulose, thus allowing for quicker and more efficient cooking. Baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) decomposes into carbonate and hydroxide ions in water. These hydroxide ions help dissolve the gamma cellulose in plant cells. Consequently, using baking soda for nutrient preservation in cooked vegetables means cooking them with less heat, thus preserving more nutrients.

However, it’s crucial to use edible-grade baking soda. In contrast, cleaning baking soda, which has larger particles, dissolves more slowly and might leave residues on vegetables. Therefore, since it is categorized as a hygiene product and not a food additive, cleaning baking soda is not recommended for cooking purposes, particularly when the goal is to maintain the nutritional quality of vegetables.

2. Steaming and Overheat Steam

When considering nutrient preservation in cooked vegetables, steaming emerges as a highly effective method. A study evaluated the nutrient content in ten vegetables (broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, eggplant, green beans, onions, red cabbage, red onions, zucchini, and tomatoes) cooked using frying, steaming, and overheat steam methods. The vegetables were fried in a preheated pan at 170°C without oil for 10 minutes, steamed in a basket for 10 minutes, and cooked with overheat steam at 120°C for 10 minutes.

Steaming and overheat steam techniques have proven to be the most effective in preserving water-soluble vitamins B1, B2, B3, and vitamin C in cooked vegetables, showing a significant advancement in nutrient preservation. Vitamins B2 and B3 retained better in steaming than frying. Polyphenols and flavonoids levels were highest in overheat steam cooking. Across all methods, vegetables retained over 80% moisture, with the least color change occurring in frying. The uniform application of overheat steam on food surfaces contributes effectively to nutrient preservation in cooked vegetables, ensuring even cooking and nutrient retention.

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