Nutrition is steaming the best

OUR HEALTH ADVICE - Steaming foods well preserves their nutritional qualities. But playing with a variety of cooking methods is also beneficial.

Nutrition is steaming the best
Nutrition is steaming the best

Is steam cooking a health benefit? According to the manufacturers, this is the healthiest form of cooking, allowing the best possible preservation of the nutritional qualities of foods, as well as their taste. 

An argument that sells on the appliance shelves. Marketing is solid: a review of the scientific literature shows that steam cooking most often tops the rankings of cooking methods to preserve the vitamins and antioxidant properties of vegetables, all without fat.

Several studies have focused on broccoli, a vegetable rich in antioxidants and exhibiting cardioprotective properties. The finding is clear: steam cooking best preserves these properties, but also the texture and flavor of the food.

"It should be borne in mind overall that the nutritional properties are rather better preserved in the event of short cooking, at low temperature, and without water."

Several elements distinguish it from other cooking methods. When frying, the properties of the food are most often preserved, but with a lot of oil or butter. With cooking in water, soluble nutrients are extracted from the food and mix with the water. They are therefore lost if this is eliminated and not reintegrated into the dish in the form of juice or to make a soup, for example. As for the grill, it allows you to obtain a particular and often appreciated taste, but substances appear during cooking that can be harmful to health, especially for meat and fish.

Vary the cooking methods 

However, there is no ideal cooking. All cooking methods, including steam, induce chemical and physical changes in foods and transform their nutritional properties. Thus, the level of antioxidants may develop favorably with steam cooking, but not that of other nutrients such as proteins, fatty acids, or even vitamins.

In fact, the final composition of the food at the time of consumption will be different for each method of preparation. However, steam cooking itself comes in several modes: medium or very high heat, slow or fast cooking, microwave steam in silicone containers, foil in the oven or on the barbecue, etc.

"Steaming has its advantages, but the ideal is to vary the preparation methods - as we recommend varying the foods themselves."

Knowing that heat degrades, for example, proteins, steaming at high temperatures and over long periods of time will eventually alter the composition of the food. Thus, for certain foods such as thick vegetables, potatoes, or meats, steaming may be less attractive than quick frying. Especially since in recent years, lipids have been rehabilitated in the diet.

"They are very important for health and necessary for a balanced diet. Adding it for cooking is absolutely not contraindicated. Steam cooking has advantages, but the idea is to vary the preparation methods - as we recommend to vary the foods themselves, ”recalls Dr. Jean-Michel Lecerf, head of the nutrition and physical activity department at the CHU de Lille.

"In general, it should be borne in mind that the nutritional properties are rather better preserved when cooked for short, at low temperature, and without water. All cooking methods can therefore have advantages in preparing all the foods that make up meals, ”concludes nutritionist BĂ©atrice de Reynal.

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