Selecting, Preparing & Storing Food
Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, high-quality protein sources, and healthy fats are all rich sources of beneficial nutrients that can nourish and protect your body. The way you select, prepare, and store your food plays a major role in the amount of nutrients available for you to absorb and utilize when you eat it. Food additives, overcooking, and improper food storage can destroy valuable vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients. Get the most out of your diet by learning how to choose, cook, and keep your favorite foods.
5 Steps to Protecting Your Food’s Value
|1. Read packaged food labels and avoid any ingredient you would not eat by itself.
2. Eat foods closest to their natural state.
3. Be careful not to overcook your food.
4. Use proper cookware and storage containers.
5. Choose organic foods whenever possible.
Selecting Foods — Foods that contain the most healthful nutrients are those that are unprocessed. This means that they are free of additives (such as sugar and salt), artificial preservatives, colors, and artificial flavorings. These undesirable ingredients are added to prolong shelf life or enhance color or texture. They provide no nutritional value and can be potentially harmful, especially to sensitive individuals. The healthiest sweetener options that are safe even for those watching blood sugar levels include xylitol and stevia.
The classifications “organic, free-range, wild, and non-GMO (genetically modified organism)” indicate that these foods and beverages are minimally exposed to insecticides, herbicides, artificial fertilizers, antibiotics, or growth hormones. Also, when choosing produce, select fresh, ripe fruits and vegetables as they contain peak amounts of vitamins and minerals (avoid canned and frozen).
Preparing foods — Washing produce is an important part of food preparation, especially if non-organic. Use a scrub brush or vegetable wash product to remove residual chemicals. Raw or slightly steamed vegetables are better than soggy. Overcooking destroys important nutrients and enzymes. The most nutritious ways to cook meat and poultry are roasting, broiling, or boiling. Barbecued or blackened meats may contain harmful, carcinogenic substances.
Glass, stainless steel, and iron cookware is preferred over aluminum or non-stick. Do not use plastic wrap or plastic containers in the microwave because they often contain chemicals that can leach into the food, especially when heated.
Food Storage — The longer food is kept in storage, the fewer nutrients it will retain. Eating foods grown locally can help. Local food has not traveled far and has spent less time in storage. Other benefits include produce that is fresh, ripe, seasonally appropriate, and supportive to your local economy. Go shopping often instead of freezing food.
Once you get your food home, what is the best storage method? Research indicates that foods and liquids can absorb harmful chemicals found in many plastic containers, which can result in unhealthy hormonal effects on the body. It is best to use plastic containers only when necessary (i.e. for freezing food). Glass and ceramic containers, or stainless steel cookware are the safest for storing food in the refrigerator. Even water is best stored in glass bottles.