Most vegetables take about 10 minutes to steam.

How to Maximize Vitamin Retention in Food

by Jason Eaton

Your favorite vegetable begins to lose its nutritional value the minute it’s harvested from the ground. Vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals you get from fruits and vegetables are important for your body to function efficiently. By learning effective ways of cooking your veggies, you can get the most out of your food.

Eat your fruits or vegetables raw and fresh. Have your vegetables and fruits in salads or smoothies. Drink them as juice or eat them whole. This eliminates the need to cook and maximizes vitamin retention. Select fruits and veggies from a local farmhouse when you can, rather than getting them from exported sources. Locally produced fruits and vegetables are fresher; therefore, they retain more nutrients.

Microwave or steam your vegetables. Use small amounts of water in a microwave-safe container with a tight-fitting lid to microwave your food. Alternatively, steam your food in a steamer basket and pot on a stove top. According to the University of Kentucky’s College of Agriculture, more nutrients are retained with fast cooking times and less water contact.

Store dairy products, vegetables and fruit away from light and heat. Some B vitamins such as riboflavin are very sensitive to direct light. Keep dairy products such as milk stored in a fridge away from light and heat. Store food in air-tight containers and freeze your food items if you are not eating them the following day. Freezing food slows down the loss of nutrients and an air-tight container reduces oxidation.

Roast or broil meat, poultry and fish. Some water-soluble vitamins such as vitamin C, thiamin and folic acid can get destroyed due to high heat, according to the University of Kentucky. Shelly Sinton, author of “The Fitness Kitchen: Recipes for a Fad-Free Lifestyle,” states that roasting or broiling meat without overcooking is an effective way of retaining vitamins in the meat.


  • Avoid cutting fruit into small pieces. This increases the surface area of the fruit and allows oxygen to breakdown the nutrients.
  • Drink vegetable and fruit juice immediately after juicing. Oxidation starts right away, so drink up before all the nutrients are broken down.
  • Though some B vitamins such as pantothenic acid, thiamin and riboflavin are quite stable in meat when cooked, they may be lost in the drippings.

About the Author

Jason Eaton has been a writer since 2010, and has contributed to several magazines and clinical journals. He has worked as a pediatric dietitian and clinical researcher in the United Kingdom. Eaton holds a Bachelor of Science in nutrition and dietetics, as well as a Master of Science in human nutrition.

Photo Credits

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