25 Jun How To Get The Most Nutrients From Your Food
Eating a diet of nutritious food is one of the best ways to improve your health and support your body in carrying out essential functions. However, it’s not just what you’re putting in your body that effects how much nutrients you’re consuming.
The way you store, prepare and cook your food greatly affects the nutrient content of each individual food. Some foods are more nutritious cooked verses raw, others are best eaten alongside particular foods and some require preparation like soaking before you can absorb the nutrients.
Confused? Hopefully this guide will help you understand how to get the most nutrients from your food so you’re not missing out on the health benefits.
1. Eat seasonal, local produce
As soon as vegetables and fruit are picked from a tree or plucked from the soil, their nutrient value reduces. This is because they’re being separated from their source of nutrients and rather than left to ripen under the sunshine, they’re packaged into a crate and shipped off to a retailer.
While eating organic produce is advisable, eating seasonal, local foods is just as important when you are considering nutrients. Connect with local farms, spend your Sunday morning at a farmer’s market and consume your produce as close to harvest time as possible.
2. Make the most of the nutrients through preparation
There are some foods that benefit from being prepared in a certain way over others.
Chopping up fruits and veggies for example, can break down plant cell walls making the nutrients more available when it comes time to eating. Crushing garlic releases the enzyme allinase, which helps the synthesis of the therapeutic active compound, allicin. And soaking is so important for foods like grains, nuts, seeds and pulses to help reduce phytic acid content. This binds strongly to minerals like iron, zinc and calcium rendering them unavailable for your body to absorb.
3. Eat heat-sensitive foods mostly raw
There are some minerals and water-soluble vitamins such as vitamin C, vitamin B1 and B2, and folate which are reduced when exposed to heat. Spinach in it’s raw state for example, contains up to 3 times more vitamin C than cooked.
Sunflower seeds, beet greens, brussel sprouts, cauliflower, kale, turnip greens and peppers are some of the foods where the nutrients are more bio-available when consumed raw. If you’re likely to cook these foods, it’s best to do so quickly and with little water by blanching or steaming.
4. Increase the bioavailability of certain nutrients through cooking
Some foods do benefit from cooking by increasing the bioavailability of the nutrients or breaking the foods down so they’re easier to digest. The antioxidant lycopene in tomatoes becomes considerably more bioavailable when it’s cooked. The protein in eggs increases, and beta-carotene and iron are more readily available for absorption when cooked.
5. Pair nutrients together
Food combining has been used for centuries to achieve optimum nutrition for the diet. This is because it helps certain vitamins and minerals absorb better and improves how your body ends up using the foods. Here are some ideas to get you started:
Pair greens like spinach, peppers, asparagus and cucumber with healthy fats like avocado, olives, coconut oil
Pair vitamin C foods like berries and oranges with grains and iron containing foods like oats, spinach, beef or lentils to increase the iron uptake
Pair foods rich in iron like beef with those high in sulphur like garlic or onion to help bind to the minerals for improve absorption
6. Store your produce correctly
As the nutrients are being lost immediately after your produce has been harvested, it’s vital you store your fruits and vegetables to minimise further nutrient breakdown. Keep all your vegetables and berries, expect your root varieties, in the refrigerator and fruits can be kept at room temperature awry from light exposure.
If you’re cutting fruits and veggies to store in airtight containers, squeeze some lemon juice on them to slow the loss of vitamin C and reduce oxidation. Ideally, you should consume your produce shortly after being cut.
Don’t forget the power of your freezer. If you’re using leafy greens like spinach for smoothies, store it in the freezer until you need it. Herbs can also be thrown in the freezer by chopping them up into the ice cube tray with some water.
7. Use frozen produce
If you tend to waste a lot of produce or are worried about the loss of nutrients, consider using frozen veggies and fruit. The advantage is that the produce is usually ripe when picked and snap frozen immediately locking in all the goodness from the nutrients with it.
Learn more about nutrition and how it is one of the four key essentials to wellness and not the only area you should focus on. Download our free Wheel Of Wellness PDF here.