How Technology Affects Your Food
When it comes to food, there is no shortage of questions about how to get the most nutrients out of the food we eat. In this modern world, even more questions arise as we contemplate the effect of brand new technology on the quality of our food. Read on to find out how processing and technology is affecting what you eat.
1. Microwave: Destroys nutrients
Microwaves use super-fast particles to radiate the water inside food to bring it to a boil. Convenient? Yes. A good way to heat up food? Studies say No.
In fact, one study by the Spanish scientific research council, CEBAS-CSIC published in the Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture, found that microwave cooking destroys some important nutrients in vegetables.
Broccoli, when microwaved, lost 97 percent, 74 percent and 87 percent of three cancer-protecting antioxidants (flavonoids, sinapics and caffeoyl-quinic derivatives) compared to steamed broccoli, which lost 11 percent, 0 percent and 8 percent of these compounds respectively.
If you must, use the lowest setting just to heat the foods. Better yet, use a small toaster oven to warm your foods. It might take more time, but it is much healthier.
2. Freezing food may preserve nutrients
Water is the main element of fresh food, usually making up between 50 to 90% of the food's weight. Freezing is a way of maintaining these water levels and temporarily stopping the growth of microorganisms and bacteria. In general, freezing food doesn't lessen nutritional value if you freeze the food when it is at peak quality. For example, if berries are flash frozen right at picking, there's very little loss of nutrients. In fact, nutrients are better retained in frozen fruits and vegetables than in those that are transported long distances to their destination. Produce actually begins to lose valuable vitamins and minerals soon after picking, especially at room temperature and above. Freezing for a few hours after harvesting can help prevent this. It is only when food is stored and sits for a long period of time that it starts to lose nutritional values of the vitamins, especially the B and C Vitamins.
3. Dried Fruit vs. fresh fruit
In general, when you dry a food, you are taking the water content out and dehydrating it. You don't necessarily destroy the nutrients, although in fruits, certain vitamins can be easily destroyed. Vitamin C, for instance, is fragile, so it may be destroyed in the process. That is why fruits are generally better fresh. Dried foods are nearly as beneficial, though you end up eating a higher quantity of dried foods than you would the actual fresh food. For example, you might eat five to seven dried apricot pieces in one sitting, but you most likely wouldn't be eating the same amount of fresh apricots.
4. Organic for nutrients and safety
One of the biggest complaints about organic foods is that it is so much more expensive than commercially grown produce. So why spend more? What you may be saving in money now on commercial produce you are surely losing in health later. Many scientific studies have shown that organic foods have a much higher percentage of antioxidants. And studies regularly emerge about the negative effects of pesticides and herbicides used on commercial crops: cancer risk, inflammation, and reproductive imbalance in humans and animals.
The primary reason for buying organic is that you get wholesome, nutrient-rich foods that aren't covered in dangerous chemicals. Even the foods that are grown below ground or have peels are not always safe from pesticides.
If you have to make a choice between the two, make an informed decision.
• These fruits and vegetables tested the worst for chemicals, so buy organic: apples, bell peppers, carrots, celery, cherries, grapes (imported), kale, lettuce, nectarines, peaches, pears, and strawberries.
• When tested, these have the least amount of chemicals: avocados, asparagus, broccoli, cabbage, eggplant, kiwi, mangos, onions, papaya, pineapples, sweet corn, sweet peas, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, and watermelon.
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