The Five Healthiest Cooking Methods

If you read my blog, chances are you enjoy eating healthily or are at least interested in learning how to. Maybe you buy lots of nutritious whole foods in your quest for a healthier body and lifestyle. But do you know how to cook them to receive as much nutritional benefit as possible?

It's too easy to turn healthy, natural ingredients into an unhealthy, caloric meal without even realising, just by the way you cook them. The worst way to cook your food is to fry it, especially deep frying. Heating certain types of oil produces trans fats, which are unnatural and really bad for you. As I explained in this blog post, fat doesn't make you fat...however, this kind of fat will clog your arteries and could lead to heart disease in later life.

Now that's the doom and gloom out of the way, let's look at some healthier ways of heating our food.

1. Steaming
Cooking food with steam is possibly the best method for preserving its nutrients. Whereas boiling vegetables will cause them to lose up to 80% of their nutrients, steaming only takes away about 20%. Steamers often come with two or three tiers so you can cook multiple foods at the same time. They're relatively cheap nowadays so it's worth investing in one if you're serious about eating healthily. 

2. Grilling
A healthier alternative to frying which makes your food just as tasty, grilling can be done either at home with your cooker or outside on a barbecue. It makes meat taste especially good, but you can also grill fish and vegetables. Be sure to grill your foods at a low temperature and be careful not to char them, which can produce carcinogenic by-products.

3. Baking/Roasting
This is another good way of cooking your food, as long as you don't smother it in oil first! Use lemon juice or vinegar instead. Chicken and turkey taste great when roasted, but you can also cook potatoes (who doesn't love a roast spud?) and most vegetables this way too.

4. Poaching
This is a little like boiling, because the food is cooked by being immersed in hot water – although when poaching, the water is kept just below boiling point. When you think of poaching you probably imagine a poached egg, but it's also an effective way to cook fish and some fruits.

5. Stir Frying
Stir frying vegetables helps to retain their colour, flavour and texture. It's healthier than traditional frying because it only uses a little oil and the food is cooked very quickly, preserving most of the nutrients. Adding a little water to the wok also prevents the oil from becoming too hot and releasing harmful toxins.

As you can see, there are so many ways to cook your food to keep it healthy. You could also try eating your food raw (by this I mean mostly vegetables; don't go munching on uncooked chicken!). Raw foodists claim that uncooked food maintains all of its nutrients and is therefore better for you than cooked food. However, with some veg such as carrots, spinach and tomatoes (yes, I know they're technically a fruit), the heat from cooking actually makes the nutrients more accessible to the human body by breaking down the vegetable's cell walls. So try eating some of your foods raw and others lightly cooked to get maximum benefit.

What's your favourite healthy cooking method and why? Let me know in the comments.

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