Cooking vs steaming – what is healthier?

Just a quick though on cooking vs steaming vegetables. Most people seem to believe that steaming is better, but I am not too sure.

Now I do not have any data on this, so for the time being this is all speculation. If anyone had some data I would highly appreciate that.

The point is the following: steaming is pretty much like cooking in distilled water (whilst the water below the vegetable might contain a lot of stuff, the steam does not; so the water that ends up on the vegetables is condensed steam = distilled water). It is well known that all substance follow a concentration gradient. In English: nutrients will leave the vegetables the quicker the bigger the difference in concentration on the outside and on the inside.

Now if you soak vegetable in water than (a) the water already contains stuff, in particular minerals, and (b) whatever is soaked out of the veggies increases the “outside concentration” and therefore slows down the extraction process. However, if you steam them, then the concentration outside of everything is effectively zero – this is what distilled water is all about – hence extraction is maximal.

So it might well be that your 200ml of water used for steaming contain more nutrients (in absolute gram terms) than the 2l of water that you might have used for cooking. Now of course, if you use the water this does not matter, but I assume most people will just throw the water away. Conclusion: steaming might not be much better after all…

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