What is the Effect of Pressure Cooking on Nutrition?
We consulted an expert to find out more about the pros and cons of pressure cooking and nutrition.
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A: To answer your question, we consulted Kantha Shelke, Ph.D; a Chicago-based food scientist and spokesperson for the Institute of Food Technologists. Here’s what she told us:
- Pressure cooking can reduce heat-sensitive nutrients (e.g., vitamin C, folate) and bioactive phytonutrients, such as betacarotene, glucosinolates (helpful compounds found in cruciferous vegetables) and omega-3 fatty acids, that are beneficial for human health. But so do other cooking methods—and generally to more or less the same extent.
- With vegetables and fruits, the heat-sensitive nutrients (e.g., vitamin C, folate and bioactive phytonutrients) are generally most susceptible to degradation during pressure cooking. Consuming the cooking water can help restore some of these losses.
- In the case of grains and legumes, although the vitamins and heat-sensitive vitamins and phytonutrients are vulnerable to deterioration, the net result of pressure-cooking is a positive nutritional gain—from the increased digestibility of the macronutrients (protein, fiber and starch) and the increased bioavailability of the essential minerals.
- Pressure-cooked meat-based dishes show a significant reduction in unsaturated fat contents, but it appears that iron is not lost.
- In addition to making foods like grains and legumes more digestible, pressure cooking does not create any of the unhealthy chemicals associated with baking and grilling methods.