Are These Common Cooking Mistakes Hurting Your Health?
This guest blog post is written by OnPoint Nutrition, a team of Registered Dietitians and Nutritionist who specialize in one-on-one virtual nutrition counseling.
Get ready to question everything you thought you knew about meal prep and cooking! With the abundance of conflicting information of the internet about what is “healthy” (we’re looking at you, coconut oil), it’s time to take a step back and turn to science for the answers. Keep reading to learn how and why these common cooking mistakes might be impacting your health-and what you can do to fix them!
The Chemistry of Cooking
It goes without saying that to eat anything fried is an unhealthy choice. What may surprise you is that grilled meat may also be an unhealthy choice-here’s why! Overcooking meats to the point of searing or burning may actually cause the accumulation of carcinogens. Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) form on the surface of meats, when fat burns on the hot coals and causes smoke to rise. When pan frying, certain amino acids degrade and cause the formation of a different set of carcinogens, known as heterocyclic amines (HCAs). The more pan seared the meats are, the more build-up of HCAs! These two compounds have been linked to breast cancer (especially postmenopausal) and colorectal cancer! In short, bake more, grill and fry less!
Keep It Fresh
For anyone who meal preps, food storage is a bit of an art! The problem is, certain ways of storage can help encourage the degradation of essential vitamins. Vitamins are molecular compounds, which can break down over time. Clear/opaque containers which allow light to pass through accelerate these processes in vitamins like vitamin A, vitamin E, and folic acid - leaving your fruits and veggies less nutritious!Are your fruits and veggies packed with a little bit of air? Oxygen can speed the breakdown of Vitamin A, vitamin D3, Vitamin B1, and vitamin C! Be careful of storing cut fruits and vegetables for a long period of time. Instead, wait to cut them until it’s time to eat, or store them in plastic wrap to limit the exposure to air!
Extra Virgin Olive Oil to the Rescue!
There’s a reason EVOO has been a staple in diets across the globe: it’s a superior oil loaded with health benefits and great flavor. Other substitutes, even those marketed as being “healthy,” can sometimes be harmful. Firstly, avoid using coconut oil for cooking. Coconut oil is typically 90% or more of just saturated fats - AKA “bad fats”, as they can raise your levels of LDL cholesterol and are linked with all sorts of diseases - including cardiovascular disease! EVOO, on the other hand, is over 80% unsaturated fats- the good kind, that protect your heart and lower your LDL cholesterol! Second, use EVOO instead of using butter whenever possible, as butter is also rich in saturated fats. Just a drizzle of EVOO on some veggies in the oven is all you need for tender and flavorful nutrients!
There’s Some Good News Though...
Sunflower oil, grapeseed oil, and vegetable oil all have compositions similar to EVOO. Just keep an eye on sneaky saturated fats when trying out other oils. When in doubt - EVOO it out!
Putting It All Together…
Don’t stress! Small changes in the way you prepare and cook can go a long way. Keep your eyes open for new ways to optimize your health, and don’t forget to ask a nutritionist for help!
OnPoint Nutrition is a team of Registered Dietitians and Nutritionist who specialize in one-on-one virtual nutrition counseling. Our mission is to arm you with the tools you need to live a
healthier lifestyle, all from the comfort of your own home. To learn more, visit www.onpoint-nutrition.com