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Get the maximum nutrients for the minimum effort

Maximum nutrients, minimum effort

How you treat food after you’ve bought it can significantly affect its nutritional value. Here are some fuss-free ways to make sure it’s still bursting with vitamins.

Tips for storing

Stash vegetables in the fridge
Nutrients stay around for much longer when vegetables are kept cool. So put your potatoes and broccoli in the fridge rather than in the vegetable rack. If you can’t shop for fresh veg every few days, it’s better to buy frozen, which keep their nutrients longer.

● Place soft fruit on top
Pressure on soft fruit such as peaches, nectarines and plums causes internal bruising and triggers oxidation reactions that destroy vitamin C. Make sure that softer fruit goes on the top in your fruit bowl, not underneath.

● Shield milk from daylight
Light exposure can severely deplete levels of riboflavin – a B vitamin in milk that plays an important role in the release of energy from food. For this reason, serve it in a ceramic jug rather than a clear one, and, if you have milk delivered in glass bottles, put it in the fridge straightaway.

Tips for preparing

● Look after your veg
Leaving cut vegetables exposed to air, heat or light is a sure-fire way to deplete them of their goodness. If you have to prepare them in advance, you should cover and chill them rather than leaving them to soak in water. Soaking will cause the water-soluble vitamins (such as vitamin C and B complex) to float away.

Bigger is better
Tiny julienne-style vegetables may look pretty, but – when it comes to conserving nutrients – bigger chunks are much better. This is because cutting really finely increases the amount of surface area from which vitamins and minerals can be lost.

Boil with care   
Minimise the leaching of vitamins from vegetables by using only a small amount of water, and also a tight-fitting pan lid. You should introduce the vegetables directly to the hot water and cook them lightly, so that they will still have some bite. Other good methods of conserving vitamins are steaming, stir-frying and microwaving.

Tips for serving

Eat up
Try to eat food as soon as it’s ready, because keeping it hot can destroy the vitamins. Food standing for 15 minutes loses about 25 per cent of its vitamin C, while food kept hot for 90 minutes loses about 75 per cent. You can also expect similar losses of B complex vitamins.

Breakfast boost
Some of the vitamins and minerals in fortified breakfast cereals, such as bran flakes or corn flakes, dissolve into the milk. So make sure that you scoop up every last drop to get the full nutritional benefit.

Tear, don’t cut
When making a salad, gently tear lettuce by hand rather than by slicing it with a knife. Cutting causes more browning – an indication that enzymes, which destroy vitamin C, have been at work.

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