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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.

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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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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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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.

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Nick Ferrari for Reader's Digest


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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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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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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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