God help me, but I love a good spear of asparagus roasted in hot oil with buckets of salt. Roasting is probably one of my favorite ways to cook any veggie, but especially asparagus. As luck would have it, roasting asparagus with oil and salt is okay (obviously it’s not the most absolutely healthy way to do so, but). However, other veggies don’t fare so well in the oven because they lose their antioxidant level. Here are some other ways to cook your vegetables, some healthier than others.
Steaming is probably the healthiest way to cook vegetables because it doesn’t provide enough opportunity for nutrients and antioxidants to wash away. Steaming is especially good for broccoli, because it loses many of its nutrients through other forms of cooking. Don’t boil veggies—steam them in a little bit of water. You can also microwave them with the same amount of water if you like.
“Boiling vegetables causes water soluble vitamins like vitamin C, B1 and folate to leach into the water,” said registered dietician Elaine Magee. “Unless you are going to drink the water along with your vegetables, such as when making soups and stews, these vitamins are typically poured down the sink.”
Sauteing in some light cooking oil is one of the tastier ways to cook vegetables (because—I’m sorry—but steamed broccoli just seems sad). The addition of things like olive oil actually appear to increase the absorption of phytonutrients like phenols and carotenes, said Magee. Additionally, olive oil has the highest level of antioxidants of its own. So when you have the option, always choose to to sauté instead of fry!
When veggies are roasted with a little bit of olive oil, they tend to come out with most of their nutrients in tact—this is a great option for my dear asparagus, broccoli, green beans, celery, or onions, but the longer you cook them and the more oil you lose, the more antioxidants they will lose. Luckily, the just-mentioned veggies and eggplant and spinach tend to keep their nutrients instead of losing them, though green peppers do suffer a lot of loss.
So what to do? Really, the best way to cook depends on the vegetable. Choose the one that will yield the most nutrients!