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How to cook vegetables to preserve their nutrients


(1) Cook food QUICKLY and (2) Don’t use too much heat.

AVOID:   Pressure cooking/roasting (>~400°F) / high temperature frying/grilling – Cooking methods more likely to reach the decomposition temperatures of vitamins)

PREFER:   Steaming/Sauteeing/ Waterless Cooking THEN Boiling/ Baking (<~400°F).

Steam Cooking – best way to conserve nutrients, color and taste

  • Faster than other methods – Decreased water contact with food surface decreases nutrient loss;
  • Distribute cut up vegetables loosely in the steamer to allow vapor to circulate.
  • Place vegetables that need less steaming on the top layer, those that need longer steaming on the bottom – Alternatively, add vegetables needing less steaming later on, after the coarser, denser veggies have partly cooked.

Sauteeing / Stir-frying.    Cut up vegetables small enough to cook quickly; use minimal fat;

Water-less Cooking.   Rinsed leafy vegetables E.g. spinach, cabbage will have enough water clinging to them to be cooked at low-heat in a covered pot/pan without additional water.


  • Use minimal water to prevent water-soluble vitamins (E.g. B, C) and minerals leaching into cooking water.    Water-soluble vitamins are contained in watery part of fruits and vegetables and easily leaches into cooking water (along with minerals); Soups, stews and casseroles retain vitamin C. Broccoli is relatively leach resistant. Combs GF, The Vitamins, Fundamental Aspects in Nutrition and Health, 2001
  • Add the vegetables AFTER the water has boiled.   The high temperature helps to deactivate enzymes that would otherwise destroy the vitamin C.
  • Keep lid on pan –  T