Cooking Mistakes That Are Making Your Food Unhealthy

These bad cooking habits could be costing you essential nutrients, tricking you into overeating or even making you sick.

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Unhealthy cooking mistakes - boiling vegetables broccoli
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Boiling your veggies

A review published in the International Journal of Gastronomy and Food Science in 2016 showed that boiling vegetables resulted in a high loss of vitamin C and folate. One study found that broccoli, for example, lost about 33 per cent of its vitamin C. “Water-soluble vitamins leach out,” says Nishta Saxena, a registered dietitian based in Toronto. “If you’re not using the fluids in something like a soup, you’re missing out on nutrients.”

Here are eight foods you should be eating raw.

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bad cooking habits chicken
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Rinsing raw chicken

While your favourite old cookbooks likely tell you to rinse a chicken before roasting, this outdated advice is a safety hazard. Running poultry under the tap may remove some of the bacteria (including salmonella and campylobacter, which can cause diarrhea, vomiting and fever), but it’s also likely to transfer it around your kitchen—as far as nearly one metre from the sink, according to research from Drexel University in Philadelphia. “Droplets can spread from your hands to counter­tops and even onto the floor, which can be a concern, especially if you have small children,” says Saxena. To stay safe, skip the rinse and wash your hands thoroughly after you’re finished prepping your bird.

Consult our healthy home checklist to eliminate potential hazards, room by room.

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bad cooking habits peeling fruit
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Removing skins from produce

Peeling your produce rids your food of an important layer of nutrients. “Significant amounts of vitamins, minerals and fibre are found in the skins,” says Liz Powell, a registered dietitian with Yaletown Nutrition in Vancouver. Researchers at the University of Maine estimate that the skins of potatoes, for example, contain 10 to 12 times more antioxidants than the flesh. Peeling fruits and vege­tables also strips away a dose of insoluble fibre, which is crucial for digestion and bowel function. (Here are 12 high fibre foods worth adding to your cart.)

Concern about herbicide or pesticide residue isn’t a good enough reason to forego the peelings, says Powell. Washing your fresh produce will remove some pesticide residues from the surface, she says. You can also opt for organic varieties of heavily sprayed produce, such as peaches.

Find out which fruits and vegetables you should (and shouldn’t) peel.

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bad cooking habits blender
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Blending everything

A smoothie is a smart way to sneak in some greens (and down your breakfast in a hurry), but liquid meals tend to be unbalanced. They’re often lacking in protein, healthy fat and complex carbohydrates. These components work together to keep us feeling full and satisfied, Powell says. “Without them, it’s not really a balanced meal.” Powell recommends adding a scoop of yogourt or protein powder and part of an avocado or a spoonful of hemp hearts for protein and fat. To sneak in a complex carb, you can add some oats to the blender or have a piece of whole-grain toast on the side, she says.

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bad cooking habits salad
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Overdressing salads

“Salads have this health halo—we think we can add anything to them and they’ll still be a nutritious choice, but it’s just not true,” says Saxena. “If you’re topping your bowl with dried cranberries, candied pecans and a sweet goat cheese, you’ve easily added 30 grams of sugar to your so-called healthy lunch.” Chopped, raw nuts and seeds are better options to beef up the flavour profile of your greens. Oil-based dressings also tend to be more nutritious than their creamy counterparts.

Find out more cooking mistakes everyone makes.

Reader's Digest Canada
Originally Published in Reader's Digest Canada

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