Pressure cooking is one of those cooking methods that have been used by our great ancestors that are generally thought to be healthier and more beneficial to the human body. For many years, this is believed to be the case which is why consumers continued to shop around for the best pressure cooker until today.
As a result, various changes and improvements have been made by pressure cooker manufacturers. There now are safety features and even those that cook in a relatively shorter amount of time.
Understanding the Process of Pressure Cooking
In pressure cooking, the food basically gets cooked by subjecting it to a consistent high heat for a period of time (which is usually long to extract all juices and make the meat tenderer and tastier). However, it has also been proven that cooking food for a prolonged period of time can kill the nutrients (most especially with vegetables). From this comes somewhat of a gray area that we will try to clear out.
With numerous studies done to confirm whether pressure cooking is actually healthy or not, researchers found that pressure cooking can indeed be a healthy method in such a way that it is able to preserve food nutrients despite being subjected to incredibly high heat and pressure.
Based on the studies done, boiling is said to be the worst method as it retains 40-75% of nutrients, roasting comes second worst at 53-90%. Steaming is the second best way of keeping the nutrients at 75-90% but pressure cooking remains the best and most preferred cooking method if you want to retain the food nutrients with an almost perfect rate of 90-95%.
What Makes Pressure Cooking Healthy
After various researches, it was found out that it is not the temperature that really matters with regard to preserving food nutrients but the cooking time. In food, there are heat-labile nutrients such as thiamine, pantothenic acid, folate, and vitamin C. These ingredients will be lost regardless of the cooking temperature so one really does not have to stress himself/herself out. This is probably why oranges are meant to be eaten as raw and not cooked.
Experts say that it really does not matter whether you are cooking at low heat or high heat, some nutrients will simply get lost in the process because they are heat labile. However, as for the rest of the nutrient table, they are relatively stable in heat so everyone can enjoy its delicious taste and nutrients even after having been subjected to a stable heat for an hour or so.
The two most important facts to remember here are that pressure cookers cut down the cooking time by as much as 70%, hence, the nutrients are better preserved and since pressure cooker uses less water, the nutrients are kept intact without seeping to the water instead.
What Makes Pressure Cooking Different from Other Cooking Methods
You must have heard about the recent health issues with regards to acrylamides or the carcinogenic compounds which is said to be formed once food is exposed to high temperatures as would be the case in grilling. Yes there is actually some truth slowly being uncovered in the notion that grilling is not at all exactly healthy.
Take potatoes for example. When subjected to high heat, they can form acrylamides. However, experts have also found out that when put in a pressure cooker instead, potatoes would not form this dangerous compound. It is thought that the steam trapped inside the pressure cooker eliminates this and that it would only form in dry cooking methods or in ultra high temperature as what would be in deep frying.
What Happens to the Proteins in the Food?
It has always been said that cooking in whichever method denatures the protein in the food. This is probably the reason why health buffs want to eat their fruits and veggies as raw as possible. Here is the real deal – yes, cooking, in general, denatures the protein naturally present in all foods. However, what everyone must understand is that this denaturing process is actually needed by the human body in order for the proteins to be digested properly.
Studies have also showed that pressure cooking is the best way to make the proteins in food readily accessible for consumption by the human body especially with regards to beans and the likes.
The Straight Answer
Bottom-line here is that through pressure cooking, food does not just get more tender than any other form of cooking but also more nutritious without any would-be untoward side effects. At the end of it, you even give your body better chances of digesting the food properly which results in more absorption of nutrients.
Remember, no matter how healthy a vegetable or fruit is, if you cannot digest it properly, you still end up with zero nutrients. Pressure cooking is an truly extremely easy to do, offers a lot of healthy benefits, and cuts cooking time by as much as 70% especially if you are to choose the quick cook ones already available in the market today.