Vitamin C Helps You to Fight Cancer, Part III

Handle with Care

If you are nutrition-minded, you probably try not to lose nutrients in cooking.

With vitamin A, you don’t have to worry. It is tough stuff; pretty much indifferent to water, heat, and even long periods of storage. Vitamin A doesn’t dissolve in water, so it doesn’t leach into water used in cooking.

But vitamin C is very sensitive. Heat, light, and oxygen can do it in. In fact, some loss of the vitamin C in food just cannot be prevented.

With a little effort, though, losses of the vitamin can be kept to a minimum. Here are the rules:

  1. The sooner fresh foods can be used, the better. Vitamin C breaks down during storage.
  2. Try not to chop these foods finely all the time. The fewer pieces a food is cut into, the lower its exposure to oxygen, which destroys vitamin C.
  3. The vitamin C in cabbage, cantaloupe, squashes, and strawberries is especially unstable. The sooner they are eaten after cutting, the better.
  4. When using water to cook foods rich in vitamin C, boil the water first. Then add the food and cover the pot tightly. This cuts down on the oxygen coming in contact with the food.
  5. Cook vitamin C-containing foods in as little water as possible. The vitamin can leach into the cooking water. Steaming in a basket or pressure-cooking is better, because less liquid will come into contact with the food.
  6. If you do cook these foods in water, use the cooking water to make a sauce or save it for stock. This way, you won’t pour vitamin C down the drain.
  7. Keep cooking time to a minimum. The longer the food is cooked, the more vitamin C will lose.

It is not always possible, of course, to follow these rules, but when it is, do so. The vitamin will also hold up better if not heavily exposed to light.

About Frozen Foods

All of this talk about losing vitamin C must make you wonder if any of it is left in processed foods. The answer is: it depends.

In some cases, the ability of the food industry to preserve the vitamin C in food is no less than amazing. In other instances, though,  it seems that processors are not trying hard enough.

My favorite example is frozen orange juice concentrate. It contains hardly a milligram less vitamin C than the oranges that it hails from. The juice processors have perfected their trade so well that it is almost an art.

Many other frozen foods do lose some vitamin C during the trip from field to supermarket. But their fresh counterparts are likely to do so, too, during storage and cooking. So, though fresh, raw vegetables usually have the most vitamin C, once cooked, their C content may be on a par with that of frozen foods.

If you observe the rules on preserving the vitamin C in foods, your fresh, cooked vegetables may retain more vitamin C than frozen ones.

Is There Vitamin C in That Can?

For canned fruits and vegetables, the story is not so good. Canned foods often have less vitamin C than frozen or fresh foods. The vitamin C leaches into the water used in packing.

So even though a canned food might have a lower cost per pound than the fresh or frozen version of the same item, it is not necessarily the best buy. If the canned version has only half as much vitamin C as the frozen, for instance, it actually can cost more to get 20 mg of vitamin C from it.

I do not want to imply that canned foods have no nutritional value. Nor do I mean to say that canned foods should never be used. But nutritionally, frozen foods are often a better buy. When in season, fresh foods are often a better buy, too. And fresh or frozen foods usually have less salt – a big plus.

You almost always can depend on fresh, uncooked foods for vitamin C (provided that the food is a source of the vitamin). When you eat fresh, raw foods, you don’t have to give a thought to losses that occur during cooking.

Remember: the vitamin C that remains in frozen or fresh foods can be destroyed by too much exposure to heat, light, and large amounts of cooking liquid. But a little effort can go a long way toward preventing unnecessary losses of this important vitamin.

I suggest you to find other valuable stories concerning vitamin C and cancer as follows: