“Eat your vegetables”, a phrase we probably all heard dozens of times when we were kids. And although your mom was absolutely right to make you eat your greens, some of our little sneaky habits are making eating vegetables less healthy than we may think.
Here are 10 ways you may be making your vegetables less nutritious or healthy.
1. You only eat your veggies raw
While eating more raw veggies is definitely a good thing to do, some veggies – such as tomatoes and carrots – are actually more nutritious when cooked. The heat softens their cell walls, allowing more nutrients to be released and absorbed by our bodies.
However, avoid baking, frying and barbecuing vegetables at extremely high temperatures for long periods. Lightly sautéing or steaming your veggies is the best way to preserve most nutrients.
2. You’re not soaking/washing your veggies
Especially if you buy your produce conventionally, it is important to give them a good clean. Best is to let them soak for about 15-20 minutes in water (add vinegar or baking soda for extra cleaning effect) prior to cooking them. After soaking, give them another quick rinse under running water and they should be good to go.
3. You are juicing all the good stuff away
While juicing is a great way to boost your vitamin intake, what many people do not realize is that they are discarding a very important part, being the fibers. Fiber is what improves digestion, keeps you regular, and boosts feelings of satiety to avoid overeating.
4. Not pairing veggies with healthy fat
Research has shown that adding a healthy fat – such as avocado, olive oil, coconut oil, seeds, and nuts – to your greens helps the body absorb more of its other beneficial health-promoting nutrients.
5. You’re not filling your plate with different colors
These days, leafy greens get most of the attention. While it is important to add them to your daily diet, if you are not creating a rainbow on your plate every day you are missing out on many other beneficial heart disease- and cancer-preventing phytonutrients like lutein, lycopene, flavonoids and tannins.
6. You are not freezing your veggies
Fresh is always best, but the longer you keep your veggies in the fridge to more of their nutrients will fade away. So if you are stocking up for a week, cut and freeze your fresh produce for later that week to ensure that their precious vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients are locked in and preserved until you’re ready to cook them.
Some studies even claim frozen veggies to be more nutritious than fresh ones, because they are frozen right after harvesting, while its fresh counterparts have been on a longer journey from field to your plate.
7. Storing your lettuce wrong
Did you know that when you tear lettuce leaves apart protective phytonutrients are produced? Some studies show that torn lettuce can have almost double the amount of antioxidant compared to whole leaves.
8. Drizzling fat-free dressing onto your salads
Commercially available dressings are full of preservatives, sugar, sodium and other questionable ingredients. Especially the low-fat or fat-free variations.
9. Let garlic rest
Did you know that when you mince garlic and cook it straight away you are missing out on one of garlic’s most important nutrient, allicin? An enzyme that creates allicin is activated when you rupture the cell wall. When you give your minced garlic about 10 minutes before cooking, you are giving the enzyme time to do its magic.
10. Let potatoes (just as white rice) cool
Potatoes are simple sugars that can rapidly spike insulin levels. However, if you let them cool in the fridge for 24 hours after cooking, the starch (or sugars) will be converted into a type that is digested much slower. So it goes from a food with a high GI to a vegetable with low GI.