This article was last updated on April 16, 2022
A version of this article originally appeared on Shape.
When you’re whipping up a healthy meal, you know to include some veggies in there somewhere. But did you know there are a few small hacks anyone can use to optimize a meal’s nutritional value even further? In a happy twist of fate, some of these tricks boost the flavor factor, too, Tracy Lesht, RD, explained to Shape. Here are three ways to get more (nutritional) bang for your buck.
Eat Your Veggies With Fat
Certain veggies, including broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, and dark greens, contain fat-soluble vitamins like A, E, and K, which dissolve in fat. Adrienne Youdim, MD, told Shape that naturally fatty ingredients help our bodies absorb these vitamins more easily. So, the next time you’re making a kale salad, pair it with full-fat salad dressing or throw some avocado in there, too (sounds like a tasty deal).
Consider Your Cooking Method
Just like some veggies contain fat-soluble vitamins, others, like tomatoes, legumes, lettuce, and cabbage, contain water -soluble vitamins, which, you guessed it, dissolve in water. Lesht warned that certain cooking techniques, like boiling, can actually cause these vegetables to lose some of their nutrients through the water. She recommended “to minimize the cooking time and use small amounts of water with low heat to absorb the maximum amount of nutrients.”
But Don’t Stress Out
If you take away one tip from this, it’s to keep things simple (and to make choices based on what you actually enjoy eating). “At the end of the day, your food needs to be palatable to you. It’s more important to consume fruits and vegetables cooked and prepared the way you enjoy them than it is to be overly concerned with their bioavailability and nutrient loss due to cooking,” Lesht said. “In the grand scheme of things, eating a vegetable and only absorbing 50% of its nutrients is still better than not eating the vegetable at all.” It’s like we’ve always said — there is no exactly right or exactly wrong way to eat.
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