Can you cut down your vegetables to boost 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, what type of knife do we use?
For a long time, we believed that tearing the vegetables, especially the salad leaves, was the best way to keep their nutrients. The idea is to tear the blade and destroy the plant cells. Slice through the cells to make their contents spill. That means nutrients, especially minerals such as potassium, may leak.
But that’s not all 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 nutritional content, such as vitamin C and potassium, including polyphenols.
These compounds are found only in plants and have a variety of functions, including the provision of color, plant sunscreen that ACTS as an ultraviolet radiation, and gives the plant a bitter taste that prevents animals from eating.
Cutting certain types of vegetables – especially celery, lettuce and European turnips – can increase their polyphenols.
There’s logic here. Cutting the meat that hurts vegetables, which responds by producing more polyphenols, helps prevent further damage to the vegetable tissue. Similarly, if grazing animals get a taste of these bitter compounds, they may be considered twice before taking another bite.
In theory, higher levels of polyphenols (for example, chopped) are better for our health. Polyphenols, which typically account for a large percentage of so-called “antioxidants,” are thought to help support our body’s defenses against inflammation.
But there is a complicated problem. The same chemical reaction occurs when the enzymatic Browning occurs after mince, making the apples, potatoes and avocados brown. This is due to the enzyme polyphenol oxidase that breaks down polyphenols, compounds that interest you.
How to cut and cool?
Cooling may help slow down the Browning reaction, thereby helping to maintain potential beneficial polyphenols. This is because the cold temperatures in the fridge slow down the chemical reaction, which usually breaks down polyphenols.
On the surface, this sounds like a good idea: cut up the vegetables and 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. Thus, from a nutritional point of view, this may be a case of “rob Peter to pay Paul” and may not have any overall benefit.
We also need to look at the actual levels of the polyphenol changes that are produced by the chopping. While the chopped carrots increased by nearly 200%, carrots usually contained very small amounts of these compounds.
So while it may be possible to generate more polyphenols after mince, the increase is actually largely irrelevant. This is because the amount of chopped and frozen vegetables is still very small and is usually poorly absorbed.
So, for most people, the key message remains: 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 cells release other enzymes that break down the structure and become soft and mushy. Cooling can also slow the effect.
That’s the case with basil, and many recipes recommend tearing rather than chopping, or risking rolling the basil, because it changes 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.
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 sharp.
More importantly, the copper in the steel knife helps the polyphenol oxidase act, leading to faster Browning. Therefore, ceramic knives or plastic knives can reduce this effect.