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Cooking food in a pressure cooker: Is it healthy or not?

Almost all cooking methods, including pressure cooking, have their own pros and cons.

Pressure cooking is one of the most common cooking methods in India, but there are contradictory views on whether it is healthy or not.

Healthy eating is not just about choosing the right foods but how you cook them also plays a role. Certain cooking methods can reduce the amount of nutrients in your food. For example, exposing food to high levels of heat may cause the food to lose its nutrients. A wrong method of cooking may even harm your health. Studies have linked excessive consumption of meat cooked at high temperatures to increased risks of colorectal and pancreatic cancers. Healthy cooking, therefore, requires the use of the right utensils and the right techniques.

Pressure cooking is one of the most common cooking methods in India, but there are contradictory views on whether it is healthy or not. No doubt, it saves time as it can cook foods two to ten times faster than other cooking methods.

Advantages of cooking food in a pressure cooker

While some say pressure cooked food is unhealthy as it heats the nutrients in the food at a very high temperature, others claim that it keeps the nutrients intact because the food is exposed to heat for a lesser period.

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Steaming is considered to be one of the healthiest cooking methods as it helps retain the nutrients of the foods that could be destroyed when exposed to excessive heat. Pressure cooking is a cooking method that uses a combination of heat and steam. It is the steam and pressure and not the high heat that actually cooks the food. Therefore, it is considered safe to cook food in a pressure cooker as long as cooking time is carefully regulated.

A study conducted by the Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture revealed that pressure cooking reduces the lectin content from food. Lectins are naturally occurring proteins that are found in most plants. They can reduce the nutritional value of food by hindering the absorption of minerals.

Disadvantages of cooking food in a pressure cooker

However, starchy foods may form acrylamide, a harmful chemical, when pressure cooked. Consumption of this chemical on a regular basis may lead to health issues like cancer, infertility, and neurological disorders. Plus, most pressure cookers are made of aluminum that may leach into your food when the cooker is overheated. Exposure to high levels of aluminum has been linked to neurotoxicity (damage to the brain or peripheral nervous system).

Because pressure cooking is an enclosed form of cooking, there is no contact with air. Therefore, some nutritionists argue that the ingredients may remain uncooked from within which can hamper your digestion on being consumed.

Almost all cooking methods, including pressure cooking, have their own pros and cons. For healthy eating, it is important to strike a balance between various cooking methods.

The best way of cooking food

Slow cooking is a better cooking technique as it not only retains the nutrients but also makes the food easily digestible. Generally, slow cooking is a food preparation method that relies on using low-heat for a long amount of time. This method of cooking helps maintain both the flavour and nutrients of the food. With slow cooking, the food also becomes incredibly tender as all of its connective tissues break down. This makes digestion easier.

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