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Published in Applied Research
Frying vegetables is healthier than boiling in water
The Mediterranean diet is characterized by a high intake of vegetables and extra virgin olive oil (EVOO). Frying is often a vilified form of cooking, but when it comes to vegetables, it may make produce healthier. In a study conducted at the University of Grenada, researchers cooked a few vegetables commonly found in the Mediterranean diet in EVOO to see how it affected the various nutritional profiles. In the study, researchers cooked cubes of potato, pumpkin, tomato and eggplant in a variety of ways. They tried sautéing and frying vegetables in EVOO, boiling vegetables in water, and boiling them in a mixture of water and EVOO; each method was compared to raw vegetables.
Because oil can transfer heat to the vegetables differently than water, it increased the available phenol fraction. The oil was able to increase the apparent amount of phenolic compounds present in the vegetables. EVOO also increased the amount of fat in vegetables compared to those cooked in water. However, increasing phenols through frying still outweighed the fat content, proving to be an overall healthier route. When a vegetable phenolic content was higher in raw form, EVOO enhanced the amount of phenols in the frying process, while boiling did not affect the final concentration of phenols. The researchers concluded that frying vegetables in EVOO or in a mixture of EVOO blended with water is the ideal cooking method for rendering more nutrients from the vegetable.
Multivariate analyses showed that each cooked vegetable developed specific phenolic and antioxidant activity profiles resulting from the characteristics of the raw vegetables and the cooking techniques. The findings demonstrated the oil’s ability to enhance phenols in vegetables – healthy chemicals that work to protect cells, and decrease the risk of developing cancer, diabetes, and age-related macular degeneration (vision loss).

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