Ways to Improve The Nutritional Value Of Food - Bansal Hospital

Ways to Improve The Nutritional Value Of Food

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Did you know it is possible to enhance the nutritional value of foods beyond what it already is? Here is how:

Every bite you take triggers a series of mechanical and chemical changes. These changes affect the nutritional content of the food and the bioavailability of each nutrient consumed. Bio availability refers to how food gets absorbed into the body during digestion. A healthy digestive system is vital to keep several medical conditions at bay. 

This implies that some nutrients are best available when we eat food in raw form. However, there are some foods whose nutrients are available only when we cook, crush, cut, or eat them with something on the side, so here are a few tips to improve the nutritional value of the foods you consume.

Get The Most Nutrition Out of Food

Here are some tips to get the most nutrition out of your food. Have a look! 

1. Emphasis Consuming Locally Grown Food

Buying local farm produce has multiple benefits. First, it is fresh and nutrient-rich. The debate over organic and traditional is a separate issue altogether, but visiting your local farmer’s market to purchase fresh produce will enhance the nutritional value of your everyday meals.

2. Soak, Chop, Crush, Blend

Food preparation basics should be followed to extract more vitamins, minerals and other compounds from foods.

  1. Chopping fruits and vegetables- Breaking the hard plant cell walls frees the nutrients
  2. Chopping and crushing onion and garlic- This helps release alliinase. Alliinase is an enzyme that helps form the nutrient Alicia. Alicia, when consumed, facilitates the formation of other compounds that build immunity.
  1. Soaking beans and grains- To better absorb iron, calcium, zinc and magnesium, soaking grains and beans before cooking can reduce physic acid.

Storing Fruits And Vegetables The Right Way

Make sure to keep the fruits and vegetables at easy access. Fruits and vegetables should be kept from sunlight, oxygen (to avoid oxidation) and heat as these degrade their nutritional value. Here is how you can store the following foods:

  1. All vegetables except roots and tubers should be stored in a refrigerator.
  2. All fruits barring berries, tomatoes and avocados, should be stored at room temperature, away from sunlight, except the tomatoes and avocados.
  3. Apply lemon juice over cut fruits and vegetables before storing them in an airtight container. It reduces the oxidation of nutrients, and the fruits or vegetables will not turn brown.
  4. All herbs should be stored with their phytonutrients,  chopped up and frozen in an ice cube tray with water.

Eating Raw

Sources of heat-sensitive and water-soluble nutrients should be consumed raw. Vitamin B5, B1, folate, and vitamin C break down due to heat. Hence it is advisable to consume foods containing these nutrients raw. For instance, raw spinach has three times more vitamin C than cooked spinach. 

  1. Sources of vitamin B1-  Sunflower seeds, peas, beet greens and Brussels sprouts.
  2. Sources of vitamin B5-  Broccoli, cauliflower, kale, and avocado
  3. Sources of folate-  Spinach, turnip greens, broccoli
  4. Sources of vitamin C- Bell peppers, broccoli and Brussels sprouts are generally eaten raw to increase absorption of these water-soluble nutrients.

Vitamins B and C are water-soluble, so you should cook them in less water and on very low heat to stop the vitamins from getting dissolved and discarded before being consumed.  You can use some methods to preserve vitamins.

  1. Steaming
  2. Blanching
  3. Roasting
  4. Microwaving
  5. Sauteing


Germination is the process of sprouting seeds. You can soak seeds overnight in water. After draining the water the next day, tie the seeds in a loose cotton cloth or bag and hang them. Sprinkle water on the hung pulses twice or thrice a day, and you will see sprouts appearing within 6-8 hours. 

This process helps enhance the nutritional value of food. It is a conventional no-heat process that increases nutrient bio availability in pulses and cereals. It also aids digestion, reduces anti-nutrients, boosts free amino acids and carbs and improves overall functionality.

Which Foods Are Best When Cooked?

Up to 50-55% of nutrients are lost due to cooking. Some foods lose their nutrients in boiling water. But cooking has pros, too; iron and other minerals become more available for absorption. Oxalate  are acids that make minerals inaccessible by sticking to foods, and cooking food decreases their presence. 

Cooking helps in reducing the amount of cyanide (anti-nutrient) found in beans and grains. Here are some foods that are great when cooked: 

  • Tomatoes-  Research indicates that when tomatoes are boiled for 30 minutes, lycopene content increases by 25%, which can be very good for the body.
  • Red/Yellow/Orange Plants- In foods like carrots, sweet potatoes, tomatoes and spinach, the bio availability of carotene peaks when cooked because beta carotene is fat soluble.
  • Meat And Eggs-  For proper and easier digestion of proteins, they should be cooked thoroughly.

Consume Strategically To Maximize Nutrient Absorption

One needs to consume the right kind of food to maximize the absorption of the nutrients from meals. Avoid eating frozen foods; frozen broccoli will not taste as fresh and will not provide one with similar nutrients as freshly picked broccoli would. Keep in mind that canning and freezing food also changes the nutrient content. However, fiber will not be affected as much due to such processes.

Monitor Your Tolerance

Nutrients cannot do you much good if you have an undetected food intolerance that keeps you from absorbing them. It can be difficult for everyone to digest raw foods, although they are highly beneficial.

If one has gastrointestinal symptoms such as bloating, gas or issues with passing stools, consider an elimination diet to figure out what your body cannot tolerate and consult a health professional or seek medical advice. Once you eliminate the foods that hamper you, then you can better enhance your nutrient intake.

The Final Say

We can finally say that there are multiple ways to enhance the nutritional value of foods and get the most out of them. Did you know even dark chocolate is nutrient-rich? It is all about moderation and smart eating! 

Making these small changes in how you consume foods can make all the difference in the world while providing you with their health benefits. Consuming nutrient-dense food but consuming it the right way will help you reduce the risk of multiple issues and ailments. Try these tips out and see the change yourself!

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