Can you cut down your vegetables and improve their nutrition?
We all know that eating vegetables is a good way to improve your health. For years, the emphasis was on eating more vegetables, whether fresh, frozen or canned.
But what if there were faster, simpler ways to get more benefits from our vegetables? Do we prepare vegetables to increase their nutrition? What’s the difference between tearing or shredding your lettuce? And if we cut it, what kind of knife do we use?
For a long time, we believed that tearing vegetables, especially salad leaves, was the best way to preserve their nutrition. The idea is that the cells that tear the leaves and destroy the plants are not as good as the ones that are cut down. Slice through the cells to make their contents spill. That means nutrients, especially minerals such as potassium, may leak.
But that’s not bad news. It has other effects on vegetables, some of which may be beneficial, at least in theory.
Cutting promotes polyphenols.
Vegetables contain a wide range of bioactive compounds, a term that goes beyond their nutrients, such as vitamin C and potassium, including polyphenols.
These compounds can only be found in plants, and has a number of roles, including color, as plant of uv sunscreen, bring plants bitter taste, which hindered the animals to eat.
Cutting some types of vegetables – especially celery, lettuce and European radish – can increase the polyphenol content.
There’s logic here. Cutting the meat of the vegetable, which responds by producing more polyphenols, helps prevent further damage to the vegetable tissue. Similarly, if grazing animals taste these bitter compounds, they may think twice before taking another bite.
In theory, higher levels of polyphenols (for example, chopping up) are better for our health. Polyphenols, commonly known as antioxidants, are thought to help support our body’s defenses against inflammation.
But there is a complication. Chopping up later the enzyme Browning, the same chemical reaction, cutting apples, potatoes and avocado brown. This is due to the enzyme polyphenol oxidase that breaks down polyphenols, compounds that interest you.
How to cut and chill?
Cooling may help slow down the rate of Browning reactions, thereby helping to maintain a potentially beneficial polyphenol content. This is because the cold in the fridge slows down the chemical reaction, which usually breaks down polyphenols.
On the surface, this sounds like a good idea: cut up your veggies, cool them to slow the loss of polyphenols (and stop the color changes associated with enzymatic Browning).
But vegetable production of polyphenols is very behavioral (chopped up), usually involving the use of vitamin C. So, in terms of nutrition, this could be a case of “robbery with Peter,” probably without any overall benefit.
We also need to look at the actual levels of the polyphenol changes that are produced by the chopping. Although the level of chopped carrots has increased by nearly 200%, carrots usually contain very small amounts of these compounds.
So while it may be possible to produce more polyphenols, this increase is largely irrelevant. This is because the amount of chopped and frozen vegetables is still small and is rarely absorbed.
So for most people, the key message is to keep trying to eat at least five servings of vegetables a day. If the vegetables are chopped or chopped, this is less important because any benefit is too small to be important.
Chopping can affect texture and texture.
But minced (and the resulting increase in polyphenols) can change the taste of vegetables. This is because polyphenols have a slightly bitter taste, which is not something everyone likes.
Shredding also affects the texture of the vegetables, as the breakdown of the cells releases other enzymes that cause the product to break down and become soft and mushy. Cooling can also slow the effect.
In the case of basil, many recipes suggest tearing rather than chopping or risk contusion, as it can change flavor and texture. Leaf tears seem to destroy fewer cells, so lower levels of the enzyme are released, and less Browning and damage may occur.
Do different knives affect the loss of polyphenols?
There are some Suggestions that the type of knife may affect polyphenol decomposition and Browning. Blunt knives may cause more damage to cells and promote polyphenol decomposition. So it’s best to use a sharp one.
More importantly, the copper in the steel knife helps the polyphenol oxidase act, leading to faster Browning. Therefore, ceramic or plastic knives can reduce this effect.