Frying or sautéing vegetables with extra virgin olive oil will retain more of their important antioxidant qualities than merely boiling them, according to a Spanish university study.
Antioxidants in fruits and vegetables help fight free radicals that are constantly rampaging through the body, causing immune deficiencies, which go on to lead to other bodily malfunctions.
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It has long been thought that boiled vegetables were healthier than fried ones, as frying greens coats them with a layer of fat.
However, the study has shown that frying vegetables in extra virgin olive oil increases their anti-oxidant capacity, and boosts chemicals that prevent long-term diseases such as cancer, diabetes and loss of eyesight.
The researchers tested different cooking methods on various vegetables that are commonly eaten in a Mediterranean diet, including potatoes, tomatoes, pumpkin and aubergine.
They found that found that the foods kept more of their health-boosting compounds when fried in olive oil compared to when they were boiled in water.
Frying the vegetables also increased their fat content – but reduced moisture.
Cristina Samaniego Sanchez, a professor at the University of Granada said: “We can confirm that frying is the method that produces the greatest associated increases in the phenolic fraction, which means an improvement in the cooking process although it increases the energy density by means of the absorbed oil.
“When the phenolic content of the raw vegetable is high, the total content of phenols is increased even more if EVOO is used in the process, and boiling doesn’t affect the final concentration.
“Therefore, we must stress that frying and sautéing conserve and enhance the phenolic composition.
“Hydrothermal cooking methods can be recommended when the food is consumed together with the cooking water, as the addition of EVOO improves the phenolic profile and compensates for the deficiencies of the raw food.”
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