For this session we are going to look at some key factors that can affect nutrient content of food and also explore some shopping strategies to get the most nutrient from food.
By the end of the session you should be
• Identify key factors that can reduce nutrients found in food
• Highlight some general tips for making healthy food choices When shopping
There are several factors that can affect the nutrient content of food,
these include heat, light, and air, how the food is prepared, cooking
temperatures, cooking time, and how the food is stored.
How the food is prepared can affect nutritional value of food, for example, this study looked at how various nutrients are affected by four different cooking methods: boiling, steaming, pressure steaming, and, microwave cooking. They found that boiling is not a very suitable method of cooking vegetables due to significant loss of vitamins,
notably vitamin C and folate. Another study looked at the effect of
different cooking methods on the content of vitamins and retention in selective vegetables, they found a boiling destroyed vitamin C in almost all samples. Cearly, boiling is not a good method for cooking most vegetables.
In general, the longer food is stored in the refrigerator freezer or cupboard, the greater the nutrient losses. For example, this two-year study compared the status of targeted nutrients in selected fresh
and frozen fruit and vegetables, they found that after five days of
refrigerator storage, nutrient contents are compromised.
To summarize, the following factor can affect the nutrients found in foods:
• heat, light, and air
• how the food is prepared
• cooking temperature
• cooking time and
• how the food is stored
Now we are going to look at some general tips for making healthier food choices. When shopping for produce, fresh is always the best. Fresh dry produce in season with virtually no cooking required usually have the highest nutrients. Ideally, buy Local produce that is picked fresh. If you cannot shop often, frozen produce is a good alternative.
Frozen foods are usually processed as soon after picking, they are as
nutritious as fresh produce.
Frozen produce are sometimes even more nutritious. For example, this two-year study compared the status of targeted nutrients in selected fresh and frozen fruits and vegetables. They found that
frozen produce samples have higher nutrient content than the fresh ones. Are you surprised?
For produce, choose a variety of colorful vegetables and fruit;
choose dark green leafy vegetables in deep yellow vegetables. They have more vitamin A than lighter color ones. Orange vegetables are high in beta-carotene which the body turns into Vitamin A.
For grains, you want to choose whole grains over refined grains. For example, brown rice instead of white rice. Whole grains contain more dietary fiber and are good for you. Look for bread cereal and pasta product that list whole grain as the first ingredient. Choose products with at least 3 grams of fiber per serving. And, you want to avoid
products with added sugars or high amounts of sodium.
For dairy you want to choose low fat or non-fat option some milk yogurt and cheese. Look for products with added vitamin D and calcium. Avoid flavor milks and yogurts as they often contain added sugars. Consider non-dairy options such as fortified soya or almond beverage.
For meat and Alternatives you want to limit red meat consumption to a few times per month. Avoid processed Meats such as hot dogs
and bacon as they are often high in sodium and preservatives.
Choose plant-based protein sources more often such as tofu tempeh and beans.
In summary, to get the most nutrients from food, you want to limit exposure of food to heat, light, and, air; limit high temperature cooking; reduce cooking time, make healthy food choices, and enjoy a variety of food each day.
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