The Motley Monk is always on the hunt for better ways to eat without sacrificing any of the wonderful tastes accompanying food that's been well-prepared. It often seems that "healthy" is an antonym to "flavorful" and "good for you" is an antonym for "will kill you."
The recent edition of Men's Health offered five tips regarding healthy and good that appeared, at first, counterintuitive to The Motley Monk.
The headline: "Even if you opt for whole foods packed with vitamins and minerals, simple mistakes in the kitchen could be sapping them of their health benefits."
Heat, water, storage, and exposure to air can all cause certain foods to lose their nutrients in different ways.
According to the article, cooks make five common mistakes in their kitchens that destroy valuable nutrients. Each mistake is easily fixed.
The mistake: Microwaving or boiling them
The fix: Steam them
Why steaming works: Steaming helps retain cancer-fighting nutrients in broccoli better than other cooking methods. Sulforaphane—a plant compound with strong anti-cancer properties—is abundant in cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, kale, and arugula. The enzyme myrosinase is necessary to release the compound, but most cooking methods destroy it. Steaming is a slower, gentler heat, and isn’t intense enough to kill myrosinase. Cook broccoli in a steaming basket for 3 to 4 minutes for the biggest cancer-fighting boost.
Hmm...The Motley Monk steams his vegetables in the microwave. Perhaps it's time to stop that!
The mistake: Slicing them before eating
The fix: Eat them whole
Why whole strawberries work better: Whole strawberries contain 8% to 12% more vitamin C than the cut fruits. Vitamin C begins to break down when exposed to light and oxygen. Store whole strawberries in the refrigerator, as cool temperatures help retain vitamin C.
Hmm...Whole strawberries just don't look nice on the top of summer pies!
The mistake: Letting a bottle “breathe"
The fix: Pour and enjoy
Why it works: Decanted for long periods of time—up to 12 hours—the organic acids and polyphenols in red wine begin to break down. Leaving the bottle open overnight negates the benefits associated with glass of red, including decreased depression, increased testosterone, and a healthier heart.
Hmm...The Motley Monk will have to finish off what's leftover before retiring to bed.
The mistake: Eating them raw
The fix: Heat them up
Why it works: Tomatoes may lower the risk of stroke, fight prostate cancer, and preserve brain power as human beings age. But, heating tomatoes significantly increases their levels of lycopene, the chemical that can raise antioxidant levels. Eating mostly uncooked produce can lead to a lycopene deficiency. The most nutrition comes when tomatoes are cooked in olive oil. Why? Lycopene is fat-soluble, meaning the fat from the olive oil enables the body to absorb the lycopene properly.
Hmm...How about stewing tomatoes in olive oil (a little onion, celery, salt, pepper, and some toasted bread crumbs on top)?
5. Frozen Produce
The mistake: Frozen produce takes second place to fresh produce
The fix: By frozen produce
Why it works: In two out of three cases, frozen fruits and vegetables have higher levels of antioxidants—including polyphenols, vitamin C, and beta-carotene—than fresh vegetables. How so? As produce ages, nutrients begin to change and break down. Produce that's frozen at prime ripeness with nutrients intact is better than week-old produce that has lost its beneficial chemical makeup.
Hmm...The Motley Monk had been of the opinion that fresh is always better than frozen, thinking the convenience of frozen vegetables trumped their nutritional value.
So, here's the deal as The Motley Monk understands it: Steam vegetables, wash them down with red wine, and have a few whole strawberries before bed. It could be the perfect prescription for health and longevity!
Let the discussion begin...
To read the article in Men's Health, click on the following link: