Boil, Steam or Microwave?

Is boiling your veg really that bad?

 Boil, Steam or Microwave? blog image


Boil, Steam or Microwave?

English food has a really bad rap with people from other countries still thinking that we boil our vegetables until they’re grey!

Well this may have been true 70 years ago and bears little resemblance to how we cook now, but is boiling your veg really that bad?


It’s always been the tradition in this country to boil vegetables, from cabbage to carrots we generally pop them into a pan of salted water and get them boiling.

However we know from research that boiling vegetables causes the water soluble vitamins to leech out into the water, some 45% of vitamin C is lost during the boiling of greens along with 40% of the folate (B9).

A quick solution to this loss is to use the water for gravy, a very worthy tradition my mother adhered to and this will bring back around 15% of the vitamin C and folate (B9).


Steaming greens will result in only a 15% loss of vitamin C and folate (B9) leaving 85% behind as compared to boiling, which even if the water is used will only give you 70% of the original vitamin C and folate (B9).


Microwaves cook food using waves of energy similar to radio waves only shorter, heating the water molecules, forcing them to rub against each other and generate consistent heat. This means that microwaves are great for cooking foods that have a high water content.

What foods are high in water?

Well to name a few, broccoli is 88% water, peas are 80% water and carrots are 89% water.

Microwave cooking is quick which will preserve more of the heat sensitive vitamins such as vitamin C, Folate (B9) and thiamin (B1).

You can microwave veg with little or no water which will further preserve the water soluble vitamins and the minerals that normally leech out into boiling water.

In conclusion

If you’re boiling veg use the water, if you have the option use steam or microwave veg with a high water content!

Check it out for yourself here, try changing the cooking method and see what happens to the nutrients.

Matt Wright

Matt Wright

Director - Nutrient expert, researcher & data miner

I am responsible for the scientific research and data oversight at the CheckYourFood Group. A great journey of discovery for me as I uncover the myriad of goodness that natural food contains and facilitate others to promote health and wellbeing.

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