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7 Better Ways to Cook Superfoods

Veggies contain antioxidants that are fat soluble (meaning your body absorbs them better when they’re paired with a fat) and water soluble (nutrients leach out if food is prepared in water). Maximize superfood health benefits with this cheat sheet courtesy of food scientist Bradley Bolling, PhD.

Nick Ferrari for Reader's Digest

Purple Potatoes

How: Season with turmeric or curry powder and bake.

Why: Boiling purple potatoes releases hard-won anthocyanins into the water; baking retains them. Adding in a phytochemical-rich seasoning like turmeric gives you a double dose of disease-fighting antioxidants.

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Kale

How: Sauté with a bit of olive oil.

Why: Kale is rife with water-soluble polyphenols, so if you steam or boil it, they’ll escape into the water. Sautéing kale with an oil preserves them and helps you absorb the plant’s fat-soluble carotenoids too.

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Onions

How: Chop into wedges, let sit for 15 minutes, then roast at 375°F to 400°F for 20 minutes.

Why: When a cut onion is allowed to rest, an enzyme forms that creates health-promoting sulfur compounds throughout the entire onion. Roasting it preserves the phytochemicals—and provides the bonus of a sweet, caramelized flavor.

Nick Ferrari for Reader's Digest

Carrots

How: Peel carefully, coat in oil, and roast.

Why: The healthy polyacetylene compounds found in carrots are concentrated near the surface; peel too aggressively and you risk losing them. Polyacetylenes are fat soluble, so you won’t lose them by boiling or steaming, but roasting these veggies makes them taste best.

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Corn

How: Roast ears, then cut kernels off cob and pop them into vegetable broth with fresh herbs like thyme and basil to make a fresh corn chowder.

Why: Roasting corn first heightens the flavor. Cooking and serving it in broth will extract and retain corn’s water-soluble phytochemicals.

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Peppers

How: Coat with oil and grill.

Why: Grilling maximizes phytochemicals by breaking down the plant-cell walls. Add a little oil for flavor and to help your body absorb those valuable carotenoids.

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Parsley

How: Make tabbouleh.

Why: Parsley is rich in flavonoids—especially the potential cancer-fighter apigenin—and tabbouleh is rich in parsley. “People typically use parsley as a garnish, but in tabbouleh, you can eat more than just a little,” says Bolling.

Reader's Digest
Originally Published in Reader's Digest