Does food lose nu­tri­ent value if I cook it?

Auckland City Harbour News - - YOUR HEALTH -

I pre­fer to have my ba­nanas heated in the oven, es­pe­cially nowit’s cold in the morn­ings, and I put co­conut yo­ghurt on them. Do I lose any nu­tri­ent value by heat­ing them please? Could you elab­o­rate on what fruit/veges not to cook if they cause nu­tri­ent loss? Thanks, Teresa.

Hi Teresa. Gen­er­ally speak­ing cook­ing food tends to im­prove its di­gestibil­ity and in­crease our abil­ity to ab­sorb nu­tri­ents.

How­ever a num­ber of nu­tri­ents are sen­si­tive to heat and can be de­stroyed via cook­ing – which of course is also de­pen­dent on the method; whether this is baked, steamed, sauteed or grilled. How­ever, sev­eral im­por­tant nu­tri­ents are re­duced by cook­ing, par­tic­u­larly:

Wa­ter-sol­u­ble vi­ta­mins such as B vi­ta­mins— thi­amin (B1), ri­boflavin (B2), niacin (B3), pan­tothenic acid (B5), pyri­dox­ine (B6), folic acid (B7), bi­otin (B8) and vi­ta­min C.

There are spe­cific nu­tri­ents that are ac­tu­ally en­hanced by cook­ing, for ex­am­ple, stud­ies sug­gest that the ab­sorp­tion of beta-carotene is 6.5 times greater in stir-fried car­rots than in raw. In an­other study, blood ly­copene lev­els in­creased by 80 per cent when peo­ple con­sumed toma­toes sauteed in olive oil as op­posed to raw (typ­i­cally cook­ing in a lit­tle bit of oil en­hances nu­tri­ent ab­sorp­tion, specif­i­cally fat­sol­u­ble nu­tri­ents).

I’ve been hear­ing a lot about B vi­ta­mins lately and their role in en­ergy. Can you please give me a brief overviewof their role and if they do make a dif­fer­ence? Thanks, Calvin.

Hi Calvin. Food is es­sen­tial to nour­ish our bod­ies, pro­vid­ing vi­tal nu­tri­ents and min­er­als to drive the thou­sands of bio­chem­i­cal re­ac­tions in the body. It also sup­plies us with en­ergy. Any food we eat is con­verted to en­ergy, in the form of Adeno­sine Triphos­phate (ATP).

There are many nu­tri­ents in­volved in the body’s abil­ity to pro­duce ATP. The most im­por­tant group of nu­tri­ents for the con­ver­sion of food into ATP is B vi­ta­mins. Thi­amine (B1), ri­boflavin (B2) and niacin (B3) are three B vi­ta­mins that are es­sen­tial in the con­ver­sion of food to en­ergy. With­out suf­fi­cient vi­ta­min B con­sump­tion en­ergy con­ver­sion can be slow, leav­ing us feel­ing slug­gish and tired.

All of the B vi­ta­mins are wa­ter­sol­u­ble, mean­ing that the body does not store them. The best place to get B vi­ta­mins is from our

food, for when vi­ta­mins are ob­tained through food they are eas­ily ab­sorbed and utilised be­cause you are also con­sum­ing co-nu­tri­ents that as­sist with the up­take and ab­sorp­tion.

Thi­amine rich foods in­clude beans and lentils, nuts, seeds and pork. If you eat pork, be sure to al­ways choose free range. Leafy green veg­eta­bles, toma­toes, al­monds and eggs are a good source of ri­boflavin.

Niacin is found in the high­est con­cen­tra­tions in meat such as beef, pork, chicken and fish. Some can also be found in peanuts and beans.

Grains such as spelt, oats and rye will also boost your B vi­ta­min in­take, if your di­ges­tive sys­tem can tol­er­ate them. Al­ter­na­tively, quinoa is a gluten free source of B vi­ta­mins.

Photo: 123RF

Cook­ing some foods ac­tu­ally im­proves nu­tri­ent value. The ab­sorp­tion of beta-carotene is 6.5 times greater in stir-fried car­rots than in raw.

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