We all want to find ways to cook healthier meals for our families and ensure we serve foods loaded with nutrients.
Unfortunately, certain cooking methods destroy many nutrients and change the flavor of the foods we are cooking.
For example, cooking foods in water can destroy some water-soluble vitamins, so you lose out on their benefits.
Have you ever thought about steaming many foods you would typically bake or boil?
This is a great way to ensure that your foods retain their nutrients and wonderful flavor.
Today we are going to talk about the health benefits of steaming foods.
Let’s get started.
What is Steaming?
Basically, steaming is an indirect method of cooking. This process uses steam from the water to cook food rather than food right in the water.
This is a common cooking technique that is used all over the world. Not only does steaming help food retain its nutrients, but it also helps retain its original color and texture.
Did you know you can even make rice noodles by steaming them?
They do it in Vietnam, using rice flour whisked into a slurry. Next, this slurry is steamed, and you have sheets of tasty rice noodles and rolls.
In Japan, cakes are often made via steaming, making them light and fluffy. Steaming is even common in North America, particularly for seafood boils.
How Healthy is Steamed Food?
Research shows that steaming is one of the best ways to cook foods so they retain their nutrients.
In fact, foods such as broccoli, lettuce, and spinach can be steamed and will only lose between nine and 15 percent of their nutrients, as opposed to losing much more when boiled.
The only downside to steaming vegetables is that some may not have as much flavor as they do when they are cooked.
Luckily, there is a little trick you can use to make sure this doesn’t happen. Simply add a bit of oil or butter and a bit of seasoning after the vegetables are cooked.
Now, some nutrients are fat-soluble (Vitamins A, D, E, and K), which means that you will need a small amount of fat to cook them in, even if you are steaming the foods.
Don’t worry if you are a vegetarian because it doesn’t need to be animal fat.
You can put a bit of extra-virgin olive oil in with the water, which will help absorb vitamins and add flavor.
Let’s look at why steaming food is healthier than other cooking methods.
Retains Dietary Fiber
We all need a certain amount of fiber in our diets, and steaming foods helps to retain that fiber.
However, when you cook foods in the oven or boil them, a lot of fiber will be lost. This is the last thing you want to happen if you are on a high-fiber diet.
Fiber can provide many health benefits, including reducing the risk of bowel cancer.
It can also regulate your appetite because it helps to make you feel fuller, and it can help to lower cholesterol levels.
Retains Vitamins and Minerals
We mentioned that steaming foods helps them to retain their nutrients. This is particularly important when it comes to vegetables.
Not only does steaming help retain these nutrients, but it can also increase the power of certain vitamins and other nutrients, including Vitamin B, Vitamin C, niacin, and thiamine.
In addition, it can also help to keep the nutritional integrity of potassium, calcium, zinc, and phosphorous.
You Don’t Need to Cook with Oil
While you can add a bit of extra-virgin olive oil for flavor and help when cooking certain meats, oil is not needed when steaming foods, especially vegetables.
Through steaming, you can cook food with a lower fat content than it would if you were cooking with oil.
If you are on a weight loss diet, this will come in handy because you won’t be adding any extra fat or calories to the meals you prepare.
Steaming Makes Foods Easier to Digest
Steaming foods, especially fruits and vegetables, makes them softer.
This means that your body will be able to digest them easier than if they were cooked using other methods.
It will allow you to enjoy all of the benefits of the nutrients saved through the steaming process.
Lower Your Cholesterol Levels
Certain cooking methods, particularly frying, like using an air fryer, can increase the bad cholesterol levels in your system.
However, this is not the case when you steam your food.
This is because unless you use a little extra-virgin olive oil, you are not adding fats or saturated oils to the food you are cooking.
Since you will be using no oil, it only stands to reason that you won’t be consuming saturated oils or other added fats.
So you can better control your blood pressure and bad cholesterol levels.
What Foods Can You Steam?
Obviously, steamed vegetables are very healthy and very popular. But there are many other foods you may have never thought about steaming.
For instance, did you know you can cook boiled eggs via steaming?
It takes just six minutes for soft-boiled eggs and 12 minutes for hard-boiled eggs, and removing the shells is easier than it would be if you boiled them in water.
Other foods you can easily steam include:
- Desserts (think baked apples or pears stuffed with chopped nuts, dates, cinnamon, and vanilla).
- Frozen vegetables.
- Fresh tomatoes (steaming makes it easy to remove the skins and prepare them for making sauces).
- Fish and shellfish (cook salmon with fresh herbs and citrus, or have an old-fashioned clam bake by layering clams, lobster, corn on the cob, and potatoes over layers of seaweed).
- You can even defrost and reheat foods so they retain moisture and flavor.
See also: What Can You Cook in a Steamer.
As you can see, steaming foods is a great option when you want to serve healthier options to your family.
You will not lose the nutrients lost in boiling, broiling, or baking, and the foods will retain their color, texture, and shape.
A bonus is that cleanup is a breeze!
Since no fats are used in cooking, there won’t be anything sticky inside the steamer, and you can just give it a quick rinse with soapy water.
Check out our top five recommendations if you’re looking for the best steamer.