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How to Get The Most Nutrients From the Foods You Eat

vegetable, nutrient, nutrient retention

It is well known that foods contain a variety of nutrients that help to keep you healthy. Enjoying a variety of foods is the first step to make sure you get all the vitamins and minerals you need. Another important step is to understand what affects the nutrients found in foods. Read on to learn how you can get the most nutrients from the foods you eat.


What affects the nutrients found in foods?

There are many things that can decrease the nutrients found in foods. Some of these factors include:

  • How the food is prepared
  • Cooking temperatures
  • The amount of time since a food has been picked and
  • The distance the food has travelled from the farm to your table

 Vegetables and fruit in particular can lose their nutrients very quickly.


How can I retain the nutrients found in vegetables and fruit?

Try the tips below to retain the nutrients found in vegetables and fruit. 

Don’t overcook vegetables

  • Try different ways of cooking vegetables like sautéing, steaming or baking. Try this vegetable stir fry or broiled asparagus.
  • Use very small amounts of water and low heat when cooking. Soups and stews are a good way to retain nutrients that are usually lost in cooking water.

Use produce wisely

  • Buy local produce that is picked fresh.
  • Shop often and eat produce soon after you buy it. 
  • Avoid bruising your produce to avoid the loss of nutrients.
  • Freeze and can vegetables and fruit to retain their nutrients and enjoy them throughout the year. 

Grow your own food

  • If possible, grow your own vegetables and fruit in the summer to cut back on storage and travel time.


How can I help to absorb more nutrients? 

Add fats

  • Adding fat like canola oil helps you absorb the carotenoids found in yellow, orange and red coloured vegetables and the vitamin K found in dark-green leafy vegetables.

Add vitamin C

  • Adding vitamin C from citrus fruits like lemon or lime juice helps your body absorb folate from dark green leafy vegetables and iron found in plant foods.


Bottom line

Eating a variety of food each day is the best way to get the nutrients you need. To get the most nutrients from the foods you eat, don’t overcook vegetables, store and use produce wisely and shop for and eat produce often.

You may also be interested in:

What you need to know about vitamin C

What you need to know about Vitamin A

What you need to know about vitamin B12


If you have questions about specific nutrients and how your body uses them, call a Registered Dietitian at EatRight Ontario at 1-877-510-510-2 or send an email.

Last Update – January 10, 2018

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If you have questions about what you've read here, or other questions about food, nutrition or healthy eating, click to email our Registered Dietitians or call 1-877-510-5102.