Learn how to cook healthier

Healthy cooking becomes easier and more manageable when you know the basics. You’ll also find that you don’t have to give up delicious food to make the change. If you are serious about starting to cook healthier, here are a few tips to help you get the hang of healthy cooking and eating.

More healthy fat

When cooking, choose products with healthy fats. Reduce the use of processed foods and ingredients to avoid ingesting hidden fats. Healthy fat foods to use in cooking include healthy oils, seeds, nuts, almonds, avocado and olives.

These foods have essential long chain fatty acids combined with other essential nutrients. It is best to use monounsaturated oils in cooking, such as rapeseed and olive oil.

Buy healthy ingredients

Remember that healthy cooking usually starts with the foods and ingredients you buy in the shop. When shopping, look for low-fat or reduced-fat versions of certain foods whenever possible.

For example, look for low-fat varieties of milk, sauces, salad dressings, cheese and yoghurt. Buy skinless chicken breasts and lean cuts of meat. Another basic part of healthy cooking is to limit your intake of fast foods, processed meats, crisps, chips, cakes, pastries and other fatty foods.

Preserve the nutrients in foods as much as possible

Remember that some ingredients used in cooking contain delicate water-soluble vitamins that are easily destroyed during preparation and cooking. To reduce the risk of losing these essential nutrients, follow these basic tips for preserving nutrients:

  • Scrub vegetables instead of peeling them. This is because most of the nutrients are close to the skin.
  • Steam or microwave vegetables instead of boiling them. If you must boil them, try to use only a little water. Try not to overcook your vegetables or you may lose some important nutrients.
  • Include more stir-fried foods in your daily diet. The great thing about stir-fried vegetables and foods is that they don’t need to be cooked long. This helps to preserve not only their crunch but also the nutrients they contain.

Other healthy cooking tips to keep in mind

  • Braise, boil, grill, bake or steam your food. These are healthier cooking methods than deep-frying, which makes foods very high in fat and calories.
  • Modify or omit recipes that often contain butter, sugar and other high-calorie ingredients.
  • Stay away from extra butter and oil. Invest in non-stick cookware to reduce the amount of oil needed for frying
  • Include more fresh fruit, vegetables and legumes in your diet
  • Increase your intake of protein-rich, fibre-rich, nutrient-dense and low-fat foods.

The bottom line

Healthy cooking is not that difficult if you just remember the basics. Make it a habit to cook at home as much as possible. This gives you complete control over the ingredients and ensures that the food you prepare is healthy for you.

FAQ: Healthy Cooking

Are all cooking oils bad?

When it comes to healthy cooking, there is still a lot of old information out there about how bad cooking oils are. In the past, people were told to avoid cooking oils as much as possible because they contain fats that are the main cause of heart disease. But that was then.

New medical research has discovered that diets high in omega-6 fatty acids and high-fructose corn syrup are among the main causes of most inflammation in the body. It is also inflammation that causes all sorts of diseases that people suffer from as they age, including heart disease.

Although it is healthier to steam or grill your food, frying still has its advantages. For example, stir-frying allows you to cook your food quickly so that it retains all its nutrients. However, you should avoid using regular cooking oil. Instead, use healthier alternatives such as coconut oil, avocado oil and olive oil.

Are all fats bad? Should I aim for a fat-free diet?

This is wrong. Not all fats are bad. In fact, some fats are essential for the proper functioning of your body. The human body cannot produce essential fatty acids, which are needed for basic human functions, so you have to get them from food.

There are healthy fats, also known as unsaturated fats. The type of fats you need to avoid are called trans fats. You can find them in most processed foods. But even if they are healthy fats, eating too much of them is still not good for you, so take everything in moderation. Medical experts recommend that 20% to 35% of a person’s calorie intake should come from fats.

What are good fats?

Good fats are called monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. They are found in plant sources such as walnuts, olives, peanuts, sunflower seeds and sesame seeds. These fats are also found in most oily fish, such as salmon, trout, tuna, sardines, mackerel and herring.

Of course, olive oil and avocado oil also contain healthy fats. But surprisingly, coconut oil is also good for you. New medical research has discovered that coconut oil contains fats similar to those that protect your cells. So if you cook stir-fries, use coconut oil as much as possible.

Is healthy cooking difficult?

Not really. Healthy cooking does not require more effort. It is more about learning the right cooking techniques and using healthy ingredients.