From desserts and baked goods to pizzas and meats, steaming is definitely not limited to a few carrots and a piece of broccoli. This easy cooking method is one of the healthiest in the world.
After a brief period of admiration for fast food restaurants that favor unforgiving amounts of sugars and heat treatment in the form of deep frying, we’ve seen a major reversal of this trend in the last few years and an increasing emphasis on healthy eating. When thinking about how to serve meals in the most beneficial form for our bodies, many people automatically bring to mind the image of steamed broccoli. Such an association, however, for many is unappetizing and simply boring, so it is time to disenchant some misconceptions.
Steaming is actually one of the healthiest ways to cook food. It uses only heat and steam in a confined space and doesn’t require any additional oils or fats, which means our dishes stay light, healthy and incredibly firm.
A 2009 study published in The Journal of Zhejiang University Science B: Biomedicine & Biotechnology found that steaming retains more chlorophyll and vitamin C, as well as soluble proteins and sugars, compared to boiling and frying. Steamed foods retained the most nutrients as well as glucosinolates intact. These latter compounds are crucial to our health because of their antioxidant and anti-cancer effects.
Cooking this way also offers other kinds of health benefits. It is one of the few ways to cook without fat, and this is great news for our bodies. Also, unlike other processing methods, such as classic boiling, salt is rarely added to steamed foods. This is another great news for our health, as regular consumption of too much salt has been linked to high blood pressure, putting us at risk for heart attack and stroke.
Anyone who has ever cooked vegetables in the classic way remembers that they tend to be limp, mushy and greasy. Or maybe you ended up with grilled chicken that turned out to be dried out? Steaming helps foods retain their color, shape, and texture because there is no direct contact with hot water or extreme heat. Instead, steaming keeps the food moist without soaking up water. Similarly, foods such as fish, chicken and meat do not dry out or harden, which can happen when baking, grilling and frying at very high temperatures.
Steaming is also one of the easiest cooking methods. You simply place your prepared vegetables or meats in the appliance, let the steam work, and then serve. It’s really simple! There is no need to turn the food as it cooks evenly. Choosing this method also largely reduces the amount of equipment used during cooking, which reduces washing up – it saves time and helps reduce the amount of water used, which is good news for the environment.
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