How should I cook foods to get the most health benefits out of them?

Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)

Cooking foods in certain ways can be healthier for you. In this video, Dr. Oz and Kristin Kirkpatrick reveal some cooking tips for making healthy foods even better for you.

Dariush Mozaffarian, MD
Internal Medicine
Generally, the type of food you eat is more important for health than how you prepare it.  For example, if you’re eating a fruit or vegetable, you’re going to get some benefits however it’s prepared.  On the other hand, if you’re eating processed deli meats or refined white bread, harms will be tough to overcome with any preparation method.
But, whether you're a novice in the kitchen or a gourmet chef, you can learn to squeeze the most nutritional benefit from your diet. To maximize the nutritional content of foods, try the following:
  • Don't forgo frozen. The fruits and vegetables stocked in supermarket freezer aisles are usually picked ripe and flash frozen, which captures their flavor and seals in nutrients. And larger stores carry everything from old standards like frozen blueberries or chopped broccoli to newer additions like frozen turnip greens, gooseberries, and plantains. Canned fruits and vegetables are also a good alternative, but make sure to choose products that are low in salt.
  • Steam, stir-fry, grill, or roast vegetables. Don't get caught up in little details of the "best" way to prepare vegetables. The key step is to buy them and eat them -- you'll be doing your body a favor no matter how you prepare them.
  • Wrap it up. Cover any cut fruits or vegetables with airtight wrapping. Cap juice bottles. Refrigerate unused portions.
  • Cook it well. Foods such as meat, fish, and poultry must be cooked well in order to destroy dangerous microorganisms. And cooking can have other benefits, too. Cooking tomatoes, for example, breaks down cell walls, freeing the carotenoid lycopene and making it available to the body.  But don’t blacken or burn foods – this introduces compounds that increase risk of cancer.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.