Boiled vegetables still contain fiber, but boiling is no way to make the most of your veggies; you could lose some fiber and important vitamins when you submerge your produce for cooking. Fiber is quite resilient -- and many boiled vegetables contain high amounts -- but boiling may break down a small amount of this nutrient, rendering it unusable. Most adult women under 50 need at least 25 grams of fiber per day.
Why Fiber Matters
So what's all the fuss over fiber? Fiber helps digestion in a big way, bulking up your stool to keep you regular while helping to prevent hemorrhoids as well as intestinal pouches that may become infected. A high-fiber diet also helps you manage your weight because fiber adds volume to food without calories, allowing you to fill your tummy without guilt. Fiber reduces your risk of developing Type 2 diabetes and helps you manage blood sugar levels if you're already diabetic.
Boiling and Nutrients
Fiber loss may be minimal during boiling, but other nutrients have a rougher time. Water-soluble vitamins such as vitamin C, thiamine and folate are especially likely to vanish. Along with water, other elements also deplete stores of these vitamins -- heat, light and air all have damaging effects. The nutritional value of produce begins to diminish as soon as it's plucked from the tree, vine or stalk -- although freezing locks in all nutrients until thawing. To maintain vitamin content, store fruits and vegetables in airtight containers, and eat produce as soon as possible after buying it.
To keep fiber and vitamin goodness in your vegetables, heat them for as short a duration as possible, using as little water as possible. For example, steam or microwave your asparagus or brussels sprouts instead of boiling or baking them. Saute spinach, kale, mushrooms and other veggies in a teaspoon of olive oil to help facilitate absorption of fat-soluble vitamins, which include vitamins A, D, E and K. Eating vegetables raw is another nutrient-preserving option. Make fresh salads or use raw veggies to garnish meals -- for example, sprinkle diced onions over your tacos.
All veggies contain fiber, but some are richer in this nutrient than others. A cup of cooked spinach contains 7 grams of fiber, a cup of cooked broccoli contains 5.5 grams and a cup of cooked peas contains 5 grams of fiber. Other sources include cauliflower, carrots, collard greens and corn. All of these veggies taste super steamed or sauteed. Beyond vegetables, get fiber from fruits, such as raspberries, oranges and pears, and whole grains, such as barley, oatmeal and whole wheat.
- Ohio State University Extension: FAQs on Nutrition and Weight Loss
- University of Kentucky College of Agriculture: Preserving Nutrients in Food
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Vitamins -- Introduction
- U.S. Department of Agriculture: USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Release 16
- MayoClinic.com: Dietary fiber: Essential for a Healthy Diet
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