Getting the Most Nutrition from Your Grocery Cart

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You’ve filled your cart with broccoli, flax seed, and Greek yogurt but how can you be sure you’re getting the most bang for your buck?

According to a recent post by Health.com’s Sarah Bruning, how we eat certain foods may prevent us from accessing the most vitamins and minerals.

Flaxseeds

Flaxseeds have become the rock star of the nutrition world. They’re high in fiber, omega-3s, and phytocheicals that may protect against cancer. But, your body might not be able to digest whole flaxseeds. Katherine Zeratsky, RD of the Mayo Clinic recommends using ground flaxseeds. Either purchase pre-ground or whirl through a coffee grinder or spice mill.

Black tea

If you’re switching your morning coffee for tea, keep your beverage black. Studies show adding milk to black tea won’t effect the antioxidants but it does impact the cardiovascular benefits. Proteins from milk can bind with catechins in the tea, which makes the beneficial compounds hard to absorb.

Broccoli

Steamed broccoli. How hum. The green veggie is packed with vitamin C, chlorophyll, antioxidants, and other anti-carcinogenic compounds. A 2009 study in China concluded steaming is the best cooking method to retain health benefits. Boiling and stir-frying, not so much…

Strawberries

Strawberries are a great source of fiber, antioxidants, and vitamin C but when you slice and sugar those berries ahead of time, you’re losing valuable nutrients. Kristy Del Coro, senior culinary nutritionist for SPE Certified, says vitamin C and other nutrients are light- and oxygen-sensitive. Frozen produce does retain lots of nutrients and are a better option than eating out of season fruit or vegetables that have traveled long distances or weren’t allowed to fully ripen.

Garlic

Allicin, the cancer-fighting enzyme in garlic, benefits from exposure to air. Let chopped garlic sit for about 1o minutes to activate the enzyme.

Whole grains and beans

When adding whole unrefined grains like farro, freekeh, sorghum, and wheat berries or dried beans, soak overnight in water to release phytates, antioxidant compounds that can bind to vitamins and minerals, preventing absorption in the body. Semi-refined or unhulled grains like pearled barley or oats do not need to be soaked.

Greek Yogurt

The watery substance topping Greek yogurt is whey, which contains protein and vitamin B12, along with minerals like calcium and phosphorous. Stir yogurt instead of pouring off the liquid. Heating yogurt for cooking removes the probiotic benefits. Live and active cultures can’t stand up to heat. However, you’ll still get the protein, calcium, and Vitamin D.

Tomatoes

Adding a sliced tomato to your burger or sandwich? To better absorb lypocene, the phytonutrient that gives tomatoes their cancer- and heart disease-fighting properties, cook first. Researchers at Cornell University found the antioxidant content increases when heated to about 190 degrees.

Asparagus

Tempted to buy asparagus in a microwave-ready bag? Studies show microwaving may deplete the vitamin C content because the nutrient is water soluble. Quickly steam or stir fry over the stove till tender and crisp and not soft. Save the leftover water from steaming for even more vitamins and minerals. Add to a sauce or soup.

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