Steaming vegetables has been considered the healthier option for quite a while. You'll find people switching over from boiling their food to steaming it, claiming it to have done wonders for their health.
If you're looking to switch from boiling to steaming yourself, consider it a wise decision. The advantages of steaming over boiling have been proved, and they are many in number. This, in a way, depends on how you used to eat the food you used to boil. When you compare, do it between the raw veggies, the ones that you boil and throw away the excess water, and steamed veggies.
You may consider raw veggies as the best option for nutrition value, but that's not the case all the time. For example, tomatoes, when eaten raw, give the optimum level of vitamin A and beta carotene. When boiled, the tomato loses some amount of beta-carotene and almost negligible amount of vitamin A. Now we have a look at the pigment called lycopene, which has been linked to lowering cancer risk and heart attacks.
Lycopene intake is less from raw tomatoes than from boiled or steamed tomatoes. This is because cooking brings out the lycopene from within the cell walls, making it easily accessible to the body.
Steaming Keeps What Boiling Takes Away
Steaming possesses great advantages over eating raw and deep frying your veggies, like you do not need oil when you steam your vegetables. This is one of the biggest selling points of steamed vegetables over frying or deep frying. And with the number of people turning to steaming their vegetables, there are some tasty recipes out there too! There are quite a few problems that arise when you boil your veggies.
There is a heavy leach of nutrients and colored antioxidants from the vegetables you boil. This is applicable to soluble nutrients, namely folic acid and vitamin C. There is an average 15% to 25% loss of folic acid and vitamin C when you boil instead of steaming. This is because, heat breaks down the vegetable cellular linings and soluble vitamins and acids that then dissolve into the water.
The same happens with steaming, in a way, but the nutrients are still fully retained by the veggie, as there is no contact with the boiling water and the veggie. The problem here is that we mostly tend to throw away the water when we boil, and a part of our health with it. If you can, make a soup out of that water to reduce the loss of nutrition.
Vegetable consistency is hard to maintain when you boil it. The outer sides of the vegetables get cooked much faster when you boil, and the constant contact with the boiling water and the hot utensil surface makes it all the more difficult for the vegetables to stay in one piece. Steaming, on the other hand, is much more subtle, and there's no contact with the boiling water or the cooking surface with the veggies, so it's much more easier to hold the vegetables as a whole.
Tendency to Overcook
Overcooking happens easily when you boil, as compared to steaming. The temperature exposure is much harsher and if you don't time it right, you get veggie mush. You have to try really hard if you want to overcook by steaming. Apart from the whole health angle, there have been claims that steaming vegetables, when done right, tastes much better than boiling!
But, before you jump over to steaming, consider this - food keeps your body healthy as much as it keeps your mind healthy. A complete abstinence from other types of cooking is never the way to go, especially if you're not a fan of steaming. Taste and palatability are sometimes more important than the nutrition leach. If you try steaming and grow tired of it, you'll stop eating food steamed and keep eating food fried. If your mother used to boil the vegetables all the time, chances are you will prefer it to steaming in terms of taste. Bottom line is, you'll still keep eating vegetables.