Vegetables: Love These Powerhouses of Nutrition (cont.)

Cooking vegetables kills bacteria, renders certain vegetables digestible, enhances taste, texture, and aroma -- and, in the process, loses some of the vitamins and minerals.

To retain the most nutrients, cook your vegetables in the least amount of water and for the shortest period of time possible. Microwaving is one of the best methods, as it's quick and requires little to no water.

Before you start chopping or cooking, it's important to properly prepare your produce. Along with all those nutrients come some risky residues that need to be washed away. So carefully wash all your vegetables -- scrubbing them or washing them with a forceful stream of water or a bottled vegetable wash -- to remove bacteria and any chemical residues from the outer layer.

And when you cut vegetables, always use a clean knife and cutting board to avoid cross-contamination from other foods. It's a good idea to have a designated cutting board for your produce -- one that is never used for meats, fish, or poultry.

A little preparation precaution is a small price to pay for all the benefits vegetables bring to your body. Along with regular physical activity, eating a variety of vegetables is one of the best things you can do for your health. So get moving and eat your veggies every day -- to prevent cancer, stroke, and other diseases while you watch the pounds melt away.

Originally published March 11, 2004.
Medically updated Feb. 16, 2006.

SOURCES: American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, February 2004. Stroke: Journal of the American Heart Association, Sept. 19, 2003. North American Association for the Study of Obesity meeting, 2003.

©2006 WebMD Inc. All rights reserved.

Health Solutions From Our Sponsors