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  • You Ask, I Answer: Does Roasting Decrease Nutrition?

    Roasted_Harvest_Vegetables.ashxI love roasted vegetables. Broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, asparagus, green beans… you name it.  I’m concerned that roasting may cause a lot of nutrients to be lost, though.

    Is that true?

    – Jim Ayres
    Houston, TX

    Like grilling, barbecuing, broiling, and frying, roasting is deemed a “dry-heat” method of cooking.

    Dry-heat indicates that:

    • There is no water involved
    • Foods are cooked at a significantly higher temperature than they are under “moist-heat” conditions (i.e.: poaching, steaming, boiling, stewing, etc.)

    Whereas most moist-heat cooking methods negatively impact phytonutrient and water-soluble vitamin content (by leaching them out of the food and into the water), dry-heat techniques preserve nutrients very well.

    Remember, cooking breaks down vegetables’ cell walls, thereby making their minerals more bioavailable and easier to absorb.

    So roast away, Jim!  Be mindful of how much oil you roast in, though.

    PS: If you’re roasting potatoes or sweet potatoes, keep the skins on for extra nutrition.

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    9 Comments

    1. Rachelle said on April 23rd, 2010

      To roast vegetables with less oil, preheat the oven to 400F with your metal roasting dish in it. Toss the chopped vegetables in one or two tablespoons of oil in a large bowl, then pour into the preheated pan. Make sure you don’t crowd the pan, or they will steam instead of getting brown and crisp.

    2. Haley said on April 23rd, 2010

      All this time I had it backwards with the dry-heat and moist-heat stuff!

      I vaguely remember reading somewhere that reusing the water that was used to steam or boil veggies can be reused in soups or smoothies… my question: is it even viable to do that?

    3. Daniel said on April 23rd, 2010

      Wow, a lot of questions of my own have been popping up on here lately! First the question about too much fruits and vegetables and not enough grains, and now this!

      I worry a lot about nutrients in food and such (does roasting x vegetable kill all of the nutrients? Should I only eat raw nuts because the roasting is killing all of the nutrients? How should I go about making beans so as not to lose all of the vitamins through soaking and boiling?) so things like this interest me greatly. Do you have a ranking or preference of methods of cooking foods to retain the most nutrients?

    4. Terri said on April 23rd, 2010

      Thanks for the info, Andy – good to know! I love roasting a variety of chopped seasonal vegetables (and lots of garlic) and then serving them over israeli couscous or quinoa. Then I top with a few crumbles of feta cheese, diced tofu and some cilantro or another fresh herb….sometimes I add roasted pine nuts too. Yum!

    5. Andy Bellatti said on April 23rd, 2010

      Terri — what a delicious recipe!

    6. Andy Bellatti said on April 23rd, 2010

      Daniel — I think roasting/baking and steaming are the best in terms of nutrient-retention. Boiling is the least nutritious (as is microwaving something in water).

      Keep in mind, though, that in the case of certain vitamins and phytonutrients, cooking increases their bioavailability (ie: carotenoids in orange-colored vegetables). I think the best method is to eat a combination of cooked and raw foods.

    7. Andy Bellatti said on April 23rd, 2010

      Haley — yes, reusing water in soups helps.

      As far as smoothies…. I don’t know if you want to reuse water you boiled broccoli and other vegetables in to make a fruit smoothie….

      I think the best tactic is to eat a combination of raw and cooked vegetables (that way, you get the best of both worlds… you get certain phytonutrients that are most bioavailable in cooked form as well as a good deal of nutrients that otherwise leach out into cooking water).

    8. Val said on April 24th, 2010

      Great article! Roasting beets with carrots and turnips has been my favorite these past few months…always with garlic and rosemary. Thanks Andy!

    9. Rosalinda Pantoja said on June 12th, 2013

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