Frying vegetables is healthier than steaming

Steaming, stewing & Co .: the healthiest types of preparation

Fresh fruits and vegetables provide you with vitamins, secondary plant substances and fiber. And that with a minimum of calories and virtually no fat. Therefore: eat as colorfully as possible, then you will get all the important nutrients. But be careful: the method of preparation decides how many of them really end up on your plate.

Heat and cooking times that are too long destroy vitamins

Because temperatures that are too high destroy heat-sensitive vitamins such as vitamin C and secondary plant substances. This is why cooking is one of the most unsuitable types of preparation when it comes to maintaining nutrients (see below). Cooking time also plays a role. As a rule of thumb you can remember: the shorter the cooking time, the more nutrients are retained. In addition, you should not keep the finished food warm for too long, as this also promotes nutrient loss. Better: Let everything cool down quickly, store in the refrigerator and then quickly reheat if necessary. Incidentally, the microwave is better suited for this than the saucepan


Avoid long storage times

However, the loss of nutrients begins even before the preparation. Fruits and vegetables lose vitamins every day they are in your home. At room temperature, for example, the amount of vitamin C decreases by around 20 percent per day. You should therefore avoid long storage times. Frozen fruit and vegetables are an alternative to stockpiling: they are shock-frozen after the harvest and are often even richer in vitamins than fresh goods.

Good to know: When it comes to fresh fruit and vegetables, varieties from the region that are currently in season and freshly harvested usually contain more nutrients than stored goods that have been lying around for a long time or imported goods that have been transported a long way.

An overview of the most important types of preparation

Raw food

Raw makes you happy, as the saying goes. And indeed: Many types of vegetables that are traditionally eaten cooked also taste good raw - and are even particularly rich in nutrients. Now in winter, for example, red and kale, which you can use to make crisp salads. Or asparagus in spring, which is really delicious when marinated raw. Basically, the following applies to fruit and vegetables: Most of the vitamins are right under the peel. If possible, eat them as often as you can!

Caution: Certain types of vegetables are inedible raw because they contain toxic substances that can only be rendered harmless by heating. These include potatoes, eggplant, green beans, legumes, and rhubarb.


All experts agree on this: Cooking is the type of preparation that kills the most nutrients. In addition to the heat, the large amount of water is a particular problem. When cooking, water-soluble vitamins and minerals go into the cooking water and later end up in the sink, not on your plate. You can prepare any vegetable (yes, even potatoes!) More gently using other methods. If you really want to cook it, add vegetables to the boiling water first so that they don't sit in the liquid for an unnecessarily long time.

Braising and stewing

Braising and steaming are much healthier and more nutrient-friendly. To braise, fry the food briefly, then put it in a saucepan with just a little fat or liquid and cook everything with the lid closed. This is mainly done with large roasts that are particularly juicy. Steaming works the same way, except that the food is not fried beforehand. For example, you can stew a whole cauliflower or an artichoke in a saucepan filled with boiling water only a finger's width. The closed lid creates steam in which the vegetables cook. The loss of nutrients is so relatively small. Tip: You can steam fish, poultry and vegetables in the oven with minimal addition of a little liquid such as broth or oil. Delicious!

You can use the brew resulting from braising and stewing later - for example as a base for a sauce. So you can also enjoy the nutrients that have passed into the water. You should only pour away the water for vegetables that tend to accumulate nitrate. These include, for example, beetroot, Swiss chard and spinach.


Steaming is considered the gentlest and healthiest form of preparation. Here the food does not come into contact with water at all, but rather cooks in the hot steam that surrounds it. When steaming, most of the nutrients are retained, vegetables stay crisp and meat and fish are particularly tender and juicy (my tip: you should definitely try salmon fillet from the steamer!). Another plus: Steaming perfectly activates the flavor of the food. Even zucchini from the steamer suddenly taste like something. In addition, you absolutely do not need any fat for the preparation. You can steam almost any vegetable, even firm varieties like potatoes can be cooked this way. Even fruit from the steam tastes good - such as peaches, apples or pears for desserts. Since steam does not transmit any aromas, you can cook different foods on several levels at the same time without the flavors being transmitted. From simple bamboo steamer (available for a few euros in the Asian market) to steamer inserts made of stainless steel for saucepans to electric steamers and built-in appliances, you will definitely find the right device for your budget.

Firm vegetables like potatoes have to cook longer than soft ones. So that everything is ready at the same time, you should cut solid varieties into smaller pieces or add the vegetables with short cooking times later.

Sous vide cooking

The preparation in a vacuum is also nutrient-friendly. Sous vide cooking tickles the natural taste of the products, and meat and fish are especially tender and juicy. With Sous vide cooking, the food (fish, meat, vegetables and fruit are suitable) are refined with herbs and spices, then vacuum-packed in a bag and slowly cooked at low temperatures in this way. You can do this in special sous vide devices or in a pot with a thermometer. I don't find it particularly suitable for everyday use, however, because Sous vide takes a long time and the constant shrinking creates a lot of plastic waste. For special occasions you can try it out! Tip: You can sear the sous vide cooked meat briefly afterwards if you otherwise miss the roasted aromas.

Grilling & roasting

The same applies to grilling and roasting: the shorter, the better for the nutrients! The Asians, for example, prove this with their light, vitamin-rich wok dishes that can be prepared in minutes. The trick: cut the ingredients really small and even meat will be cooked in no time. With pans, you should use those with a coating, then you need less fat. When grilling, it is sufficient to just brush the grilled food thinly with oil.

to bake

Oven-cooked vegetables taste damn good and retain a lot of their nutrients. All you have to do is brush it with a little oil and then bake it on a baking sheet or wrapped in aluminum foil. The firm varieties such as beetroot, pumpkin and sweet potatoes are particularly suitable for this.