We all know about the little steps we take in food preparation that make our food tastier, but less healthy – an extra slice of cheese here, a swipe of mayo there – but can you prepare foods in ways that make them healthier and better for you instead?
Turns out there are several handy cooking hacks that can help you improve your absorption of nutrients, making it more health-conscious without sacrificing flavour. Here are some favorites:
1. Cook Your Tomatoes
The process of cooking tomatoes makes the lycopene contained in this fruit more bioavailable – meaning it’s more easily absorbed by your body(1). Lycopene is a carotenoid which is responsible for giving tomatoes their red color, and has been shown to have disease-fighting properties.
2. Preserve Cocoa Antioxidants With Baking Soda And Baking Powder
While cooking is great for preparing tomatoes, it can destroy the healthy nutrients contained in cocoa – antioxidants which help fight age-related diseases and can lower your risk of developing certain types of cancer. Fortunately, according to a study published in the journal of food science, cooking chocolate with baking soda and baking powder – like you’d do when making brownies or cookies – can help preserve these antioxidants(2).
3. Add Coconut Oil To Your Rice
Researchers in Sri Lanka are to thank for this discovery – it turns out that adding oil to your rice while cooking can have a dramatic impact in how many calories the rice contains.
Boil a pot of water and drop a teaspoon of coconut oil. Add half a cup of non-fortified white rice and cook it for about 40 minutes. After cooking, stick it in the fridge for 12 hours.
The added fat of the oil slows down the digestive process, while cooling hot rice before eating it changes the starch into a form that is less quickly broken down in the body(3).
4. Freeze Berries Before Eating Them
Strawberries, blueberries, raspberries – these are all great tasting treats, and they’re packed with healthy antioxidants. But there’s a way you can boost the antioxidant activity of these foods, making them even better for you: simply freeze them before eating(4)!
Researchers say the ice crystals that form during freezing changes the plant tissue and makes them more available. You can read more about this here.
5. Chill Your Pasta And Eat It Cold
It might sound unappealing, but cold pasta salad is more weight loss-friendly than hot pasta – because the temperature drop serves to transform the noodles into something called “resistant starch”. Resistant starch slows down the digestive process and promotes fat burning. Cold pasta is similar to lentils, peas, beans, and oatmeal in its structure, and it keeps you fuller longer that hot pasta, making you less likely to indulge in unhealthy snacks throughout the day.
6. Steam You Broccoli Or Add Mustard
According to this study(5), the best way to prepare broccoli is to steam it lightly over a bain marie about 3 or 4 minutes—until the broccoli is tough-tender. Other research shows pairing gently steamed broccoli with a spicy food like mustard, which contains an enzyme called myrosinase, can further boost the body’s absorption of sulforaphane.
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