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John W. Travis, M.D. & Regina Sara Ryan
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Maximizing Antioxidant Content

In The Antioxidant Revolution, Kenneth Cooper, MD, tells exactly how to preserve as many of the vital antioxidants (and, therefore, most other vital functional components) as possible by keeping the following points in mind in food preparation. His suggestions coincide perfectly (no surprise) with those of other food experts, including Lalitha Thomas, who summarizes their suggestions and adds a bit more:

  • Avoid wilted produce and do not buy precut produce.
  • Don't trim off or discard the highly useful and edible skins, outer leaves, and so on. Eat them as part of the dish you are preparing. Exceptions to this are nonorganic produce that cannot be cleaned of offending chemical coatings, such as the skins of waxed apples and cucumbers. For nonorganic produce, make a case-by-case judgment on this to trim-or-not-to-trim question," depending on how effective you think the cleaning methods have been and how offending some of the coatings are. Waxed coatings should be trimmed off.
  • Don't cook foods with the "swimming in water" methods. Use as little water as needed, or use a steamer basket that holds foods up out of the water, thereby keeping the nutrition in the food instead of in the cooking water, which is often thrown away. Add any leftover cooking water back to the food whenever possible - it contains antioxidants!
  • Avoid excessive heat in cooking. Long boiling or other extended cooking, and exposure of foods to flame or smoke can damage antioxidants. Do not fry foods.
  • Use the syrups or liquids that result from thawing frozen foods.
  • Do not refrigerate once-cooked foods for more than a day, and always store them in airtight containers.
  • Try not to reheat once-cooked fruit or vegetable dishes.
  • Avoid keeping foods warm for more than thirty minutes before you serve them, as antioxidants are being lost increasingly with this passage of time.
  • Do not hold fresh produce in your refrigerator for more than a few days, and certainly not longer than a week. Buying frozen fruits and vegetables is a better choice if you think you won't consume the fresh produce within a few days of purchase.*

* Thomas, L., 10 Essential Foods (Hohm Press, 1997)."

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