Did you know the method in which you cook your foods has a direct impact on the level of nutrition they possess and their ability to ignite healing or inflammation in your body?
As you can imagine, cooking is as old as humanity itself. Archeologists have discovered stone pots and cooking tools dating back as early as 10,000 B.C. As a technology, cooking allows for certain undigestible foods to be more digestible. Researchers are even suggested that cooking foods allowed the human brain to form complex connections that are not seen in other animal species who only eat raw foods.
There are a downside to cooking foods, which has been brought to attention as of late by “Raw Foodies.” Cooking reduces antioxidant content of living foods, increases the levels of carcinogens and can even create oxidized inflammatory fats – depending on the temperature and cooking method used.
Microwaves have been a mainstay in US households for more than 50 years and is now America’s favorite way of cooking (and re-heating) foods. While it’s a convent way of heating and cooking foods, this method is by far one of the most dangerous for your health.
Research preformed in the last 20 years reveals microwaves denature proteins, reduce antioxidants and decrease the overall nutrient content of food. Not to mention most microwaved meals are flooded with toxins from the microwave safe contains which are often full of chemicals and plasticizers that can leach into the foods when heated.
Ditching the microwave can be one of the healthiest habits you adopt when it comes to your cooking techniques. Alternative methods include using a conventional oven, toaster oven or simply skipping the microwave all together and using another healthy cooking technique.
CROCK POTS / PRESSURE COOKERS
Slow cooking is an excellent method of locking in nutrition as it’s a gentler method, usually at lower temperatures due to the extended period of time. When looking I couldn’t find any research towards negative effects of this cooking method, but like any technique of heating over time, vitamins and minerals will leach out of the food. Since these pots are typically used for stews or soups its an excellent source of retaining the nutrition as its absorbed into the broth or base produced.
CAUTION: Is your crock pot adding heavy metals to your food? Many “Ceramic/Glazed” pots have tested positive by the USDA for lead and other heavy metals. This is mostly due to the heavy metals (lead) used in the glaze to produce a sealant for the ceramic bowl and provides a shine/non-stick surface. It’s best to use unglazed clay pots (VitaClay) or stainless steel (Instant Pot) to avoid this potential contamination of your foods.
DEEP FRYING / GRILLING
Frying food in vegetable oils or grilling in high temperature is a popular method of cooking in most restaurants and homes. While frying has been found to preserve Vitamin B and C, it can be an inflammatory nightmare for any food. Research has shown frying and grilling elevates levels of HCAs, PAHs, AGEs and aldehydes in the food cooked with this method – as such it’s not a preferred method to cook food.
- Heterocyclic amines (HCAs) and Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs) are chemicals that form when animal proteins are heated with high temperatures as in frying and grilling. They are known to be mutagenic – able to mutate DNA and cause expression of cancer.
- Advanced Glycogen End-products (AGEs) form when sugar (usually found in the breading) at- taches to protein at high temperatures and have been associated with diabetes, cancer, hypertension, arthritis, osteoporosis, stroke, dementia and other diseases of “Old Age”
- Aldehydes are formed when vegetable oil is heated for long periods of time (the average restaurant fryer oil is reheated and reused for 2 weeks before its cleaned/replaced). They have been associated with atherosclerosis, cancer, and autoimmune conditions (rheumatoid arthritis, Hashimotos thyroiditis etc)
With this method of cooking food is cooked in a saucepan/skillet over medium to high heat with some sort of cooking oil. As you can imagine, the temperature, duration cooked and oil used makes all the difference. Cooking with healing oils (ghee, coconut oil, avocado oil, butter) helps to ensure that any fat-fat- soluble vitamin and antioxidants are absorbed. This method of cooking also helps to retain water soluble vitamins but only when done at medium/low heat. High temperatures can also form HCAs, PAHs, AGES and Aldehydes just like deep frying if the cooking oil exceeds its acceptable heat.
To be safe, its best to cook at low to medium temperatures (under 350) and ensure your cooking oil isn’t smoking or “browning” as that’s the visual indication you have entered the toxic heat range.
BAKING / ROASTING
This cooking method involves exposing food to dry heat. Roasting is a term used when cooking meats or vegetables and baking is often reserved for cakes, pastries, pies and/or cookies. Again, with any medium to high heat there will be some loss of vitamins and minerals. When roasting you can resolve this by basting the drippings or incorporating them into a sauce/gravy. This is the preferred method of cooking proteins as it limits the amount of HCAs, PAHs, AGEs and Acrylamide when compared to grilling or frying.