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Vegetables provide you with essential nutrients and minerals your body needs to function optimally. Yet, the method of cooking you choose can severely deplete the essential nutrients which can contradict the very reason you are choosing to eat the vegetable in the first place. 

Steaming is the cooking method that allows you to retain the most nutrients found in vegetables to maximize absorption of their health-promoting compounds. Steaming vegetables is not always the tastiest, although smothering your vegetables in olive oil and salt goes a long way for your taste buds. Plus, the healthy fats in olive oil provides you with extra nutrients.

Depending on the vegetable, cooking can decrease nutrients, which is one of the main reasons some people are devoted to eating a predominantly raw diet. However, not all foods are healthier for you when eaten raw. Eating some raw foods diminishes your body’s ability to absorb their essential nutrients. Cooking your vegetables enhances particular nutrients found in foods, increases palatability and even improves digestion of food. You can read more about which foods are more beneficial to eat raw or cooked here. 

When you are choosing which cooking method to use as opposed to eating your food raw, prioritize steaming to reduce accelerated aging and to retain the most nutrients.

Steaming Reduces Premature Skin Aging 

Steaming is an effective form of cooking to reduce processes in the body that can increase your risk of premature skin aging. Advanced glycation end products (AGEs) are formed through glycation and are associated with skin aging. Excessive sugar consumption is one way that AGEs are formed and can cause accelerated skin aging. Recent research shows that certain cooking methods including grilling, frying and roasting increase production of AGEs at higher levels compared to cooking methods used with water including boiling and steaming. By choosing to boil and steam your vegetables, you can reduce the production of AGES, thereby reducing the risk of premature skin aging.

Steaming Preserves More Nutrients Compared to Other Cooking Methods

One study measured the effects of different cooking methods on the preservation of nutrients in broccoli. The methods under investigation were steaming, microwaving, boiling and stir-frying. All cooking methods except for steaming resulted in significant losses of chlorophyll, vitamin C and glucosinolates, in addition to decreases in total soluble proteins and soluble sugars. Glucosinolates are phytochemicals that play a crucial role in converting anticancer compounds, so cooking your vegetables in ways other than steaming will significantly decrease the chance for your body to reap the benefits of these anticancer compounds, thereby posing a health risk.

Chlorophyll and vitamin C in particular were hardly affected after steaming and when compared to raw broccoli, these nutrients were almost unchanged. Researchers found that stir-frying resulted in the highest losses of nutrients, proteins and sugars.

Other studies have measured the effects of the same cooking methods on red cabbage, spinach and lettuce and have found that steaming significantly retained the most vitamin C in addition to other health-promoting compounds.

Not even steaming will preserve all of the nutrients found in raw foods, however, if you do want to reduce accelerated aging and increase your ability to absorb and benefit from health-promoting nutrients and compounds found in your vegetables, make steaming your go-to cooking method. 

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