Just Eat Your Damn Veggies

Attention: You’re cooking your vegetables all wrong and you have been for years!

The New York Times’s Tara Parker-Pope focuses on the best methods for cooking vegetables to retain their vitamin content in her Well column this week. But reading it may cause all except the super-nutrition-conscious a bit of unease.

The column is based on the premise that it’s not just the sheer amount of vegetables we eat that matters, but also the way we prepare them. Are you gently nurturing the phyotochemicals and vitamins in the produce? Or are you cruelly cooking all the health from your green stuff?

Here’s the rub: All vegetables are not alike. So to get the most from your carrots, zucchini, and broccoli, you should be boiling them, rather than what your mother taught you, which is that they’re more nutritious if you steam them. And your tomatoes should be cooked, never raw, to increase the levels of lycopene. But some foods are best raw, while others are most nutritious if you pressure-cook or microwave them. You getting all this?

Meanwhile, the conventional wisdom that says frozen can be as healthy as fresh is apparently bunk according to Parker-Pope, as “studies show that after six months, frozen cherries have lost as much as 50 percent of anthocyanins, the healthful compounds found in the pigment of red and blue fruits and vegetables.” Don’t even think about frying your vegetables—unless you want them to taste good, which other studies (not to mention anecdotal evidence) have shown make the difference between young people accepting or rejecting vegetables.

It’s all enough to make you run screaming from the produce aisles and into the arms of the nearest fast-food joint.

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