The nutritional value of the food we eat is directly related to our overall health. Knowing what is true about food and food preparation will help health-conscious people make knowledgeable decisions about what to eat and how to eat it. When it comes to protein and its relationship to food preparation, the news is pretty good.
Cooking does not destroy the nutritional value of the food you eat in any significant way, according to Health.learninginfo.org. Whether you eat a food raw, boil it, bake it, fry it, sauté it or otherwise prepare it for consumption, the nutritional value remains the same.
It is possible to "cook out" some of the vitamin content in certain foods, but with a diet that includes all the food groups most people still get plenty of the vitamins they need. If not, taking a once-daily vitamin supplement will most likely remedy the unlikely deficiency.
How it Works
Once food is ingested, it is broken down by the body in the stomach. Food is separated into carbohydrates, fats and proteins. The enzymes naturally produced by your body break down these foods and they go into your bloodstream to be used as energy and nutrition for your body.
Some argue that cooking foods destroys the enzymes necessary to break down proteins. This is not true, according to Health.learninginfo.org. The heat can destroy the enzymes contained in the food itself, but these enzymes are not necessary in digestion. Therefore, nothing that gets destroyed by cooking food results in any improved protein absorption.
Proteins must be digested properly to do any good, and so cooking can affect proteins in this way. If cooking (or not cooking) a food makes it more easily digestible in the body, then more protein will be broken down and used by the body.
Legumes (beans), cereals and wheat all appear to have improved digestibility when cooked, according to Beyond Vegetarianism. Meanwhile, there seems to be decreased digestibility when sorghum or corn is cooked. Most foods do not show a significant difference in digestibility when raw or cooked various ways, but this factor can be specific to the individual eating the foods.
With the rumor dispelled about cooking destroying protein, the question still remains: What is the best method for preparing food to retain protein?
The best answer to this question is pretty simple. Prepare it the way that tastes the best to you. While some ways of cooking may rob foods of vitamin content or affect the digestibility of proteins in a very minor way, they are mostly insignificant effects. Finding ways to prepare protein-rich foods that you enjoy eating is the best way to assure you ingest plenty of them. Your body will take care of the rest.