Global Health Asia-Pacific Issue 2 | 2023 | Page 22

Holistic Health

Healthy cooking styles

Steaming and boiling are among the healthiest methods

Eating nutritious foods is definitely a key component of a healthy lifestyle , but another important part of the equation is how to cook them as this can also have an impact on our health .

“ Research shows that certain cooking methods may change the makeup of our food in ways that could potentially harm our health ,” Dr Donald Hensrud , associate professor of nutrition and preventive medicine at the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine , told Health .
For example , some research suggests consuming excessive amounts of meat cooked at high temperature could increase cancer risk due to the formation of the chemicals heterocyclic amines ( HCAs ) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons ( PAHs ). “ Grilling meat forms HCAs and PAHs that may cause changes to DNA in the body that might lead to cancer , � �r Paolo Boffetta , associate director of the Tisch Cancer Institute at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai , told Health .
Similarly , deep frying or cooking meat or fish to welldone or browned can produce potential carcinogens on foods . For instance , French fries and potato chips , as well as bread roasted too dark , can carry acrylamide , a substance considered a probable contributor to cancer . This doesn ’ t mean you should never enjoy some fried foods but should be mindful of the risks and avoid excessive amounts . �There ’ s a lot we still don ’ t fully understand , but we do know that some methods are better to use regularly and some are better saved for special occasions ,” said Dr Hensrud .
Some alternative cooking methods that avoid the production of such cancer-linked chemicals and can then provide healthier meals include steaming and boiling , which achieve that by using lower temperatures . In addition , they lead to healthier foods by cutting out extra fat because they don ’ t require the use of oils or butter .
When it comes to cooking vegetables , the best approach is steaming because it keeps them as nutritious as possible . “ Boiling can cause water-soluble nutrients — like vitamins B and C — to leach out into the water , but they ’ re retained with steaming , � �auren Slayton , founder of the nutrition consulting centre Foodtrainers , told Health . One way to avoid losing those nutrients as much as possible is to drink the cooking
liquid that contains them .
Short microwaving is another method that may help retain important nutrients like flavonoids ( compounds associated with reduced risk of heart disease ) as demonstrated by one study done on broccoli cooked for one minute . “ Under the cooking conditions used in this study , microwaving appeared to be a better way to preserve flavonoids than steaming , � study authors wrote in Heliyon .
However , it isn ’ t clear why microwaving is able to retain more nutrients or whether this would apply to vegetables other than broccoli . “ Though in general microwaving is a preferred method , the optimum time will be different for different vegetables , � lead researcher Dr Xianli Wu , a scientist at the Beltsville Human Nutrition Research Center at the US Department of Agriculture , told the BBC . “ When considering commonly used domestic cooking methods , microwaving is a preferred cooking method , at least for many plant foods , but probably not for every plant food .”
“ Boiling can cause water-soluble nutrients — like vitamins B and C — to leach out into the water , but they ’ re retained with steaming .”
20 ISSUE 2 | 2023 GlobalHealthAsiaPacific . com