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Is Pressure Cooking Healthy? | Food Renegade

pressure cooking healthy

Strain cooking is just a few hundred years previous, and it only actually turned widespread for residence use within the final century. Once I was a toddler, utilizing first-generation strain cookers was still thought-about a bit harmful. They didn’t have all of the built-in safety mechanisms of recent strain cookers. I’ll always remember how I first discovered about strain cookers. I was eight, and I noticed one explode. Spaghetti sauce on the ceiling! On the cupboards!

These ceiling stains never actually went away. They had to be painted over a few years later.

As an adult, I didn’t give strain cooking much thought by some means. From conventional foodies I’d heard that strain cooking isn’t wholesome. “It’s arduous on nutrients,” they are saying. “It cooks at actually high temperatures when people historically prepare dinner foods slowly over hearth.” As a result of I’ll virtually all the time stand by the wisdom of my ancestors on the subject of food, this argument made a variety of sense.

However then I started hearing from increasingly more conventional foodies who use strain cookers to make wonderful, gelatinous broth in a quarter the cooking time. Why did their broth all the time turn so gelatinous when mine was so hit or miss? If strain cooking is so onerous on vitamins, how can it make such good broth with the tell-tale presence of good gelatin?

That’s once I determined to delve into how strain cooking works and determine for myself as soon as and for all if it’s a healthy strategy to prepare dinner.

How Strain Cooking Works

Virtually all meals include water, be they meat, veggies, or fruit. Once we prepare dinner food, we’re primarily transferring heat from our heat supply via the meals. Because the food heats up, quite a lot of molecular modifications happen, finally leading to cooked food. The first modifications should do with the heating and transferring of water molecules.

The only biggest limiting factor on how long it takes to prepare dinner meals is the boiling level of water.

People who reside at high altitudes know this primary hand. Their air strain is lower, and so their water boils at lower temperatures. (Within the mile-high metropolis of Denver, for example, water boils at 204F, and within the camps on Mount Everest water boils at 160F. For these of us at sea degree, it boils at 212F.)

Cooking at these decrease air pressures affects prepare dinner occasions for many meals since water will start evaporating sooner and drying out the meals more shortly.

Translation? In a low-pressure surroundings, cooking occasions on moist foods have to be elevated. Turning up the heat won’t help prepare dinner food quicker! That’s as a result of the temperature of water won’t ever exceed its personal boiling level — any greater temperatures and all you’ve obtained is steam.

Theoretically, for those who have been at a high sufficient altitude, you would boil water at room temperature. Boiling, subsequently, isn’t really a product of temperature in any respect, however of strain!

By growing strain, you increase the boiling point of water.

Simply as cooking occasions are lengthened by cooking at the lower air strain of higher altitudes, cooking occasions are decreased by cooking on the greater air strain created by a strain cooker. That’s why you’ll be able to strain prepare dinner hen broth in an hour or two as an alternative of eight or twelve. It’s additionally why you’ll be able to strain prepare dinner grass-fed pot roasts in simply an hour versus cooking them in your oven for four.

Because the boiling point of the water inside a strain cooker is elevated, you possibly can prepare dinner the meals at a slightly greater temperature and keep away from water loss. In cooking, liquid loss equals over-cooking, drying out, or burning your food. By avoiding water loss while maintaining larger temperatures, your food cooks more shortly.

What are these barely larger temperatures? Most strain cookers will increase the boiling point of water inside them to round 225-235F. That is lower than the lowest setting on Crock Pots, which is often 250F. It’s also solely a 13-23 degree distinction from the boiling point of water at sea degree — the same distinction found between the boiling level of water in Miami and La Paz.

Traditionally, before the invention of recent strain cookers (that are primarily pots with actually well-sealed lids), cooks used to try to accomplish this quicker cooking time by weighing down the lids of their pots with stones. This prompted one French inventor to created the primary mechanically sealed lid for a pot in 1679 (the lid was screwed in place and weighed down with weights). Strain cooking was born.

pressure cookers throughout history

Is Strain Cooking Wholesome?

The most important argument towards strain cooking by those that assume it’s unhealthy is that strain cooking have to be dangerous for the vitamins within the meals because you’re cooking them at greater temperatures and better pressures.

It’s like saying the cooking technique is dangerous, properly just because! For causes!

It’s like arguing that meals cooked in Miami (where the boiling level of water is 212F) is someway much less nutritious than meals cooked in an Andean or Himalayan village (where the boiling point of water is 190F) simply because the air strain and boiling level are larger in Miami.

Did you know that in numerous research, strain cooking has been found to preserve the nutrients in meals higher than some other technique?

vitamin retention by cooking methods

In this research, strain cooking was shown to be the perfect technique for preserving the ascorbic acid and beta-carotene in spinach and amaranth. And in a March 2007 research revealed in the The Journal of Meals Science strain cooking broccoli preserved 90% of its vitamin C compared to steaming (78%) and boiling (66%).

“But how is that potential?” you ask. “Doesn’t the upper temperature destroy the nutrients?”


Strain cooking preserves nutrients by decreasing prepare dinner occasions.

It seems that greater cooking temperatures don’t destroy any extra vitamins than lower cooking temperatures. If a temperature is excessive sufficient to start out destroying heat-sensitive nutrients, then these heat-sensitive nutrients can be lost regardless of whether or not the cooking temperature is 119F or 350F.

It’s not the temperature that issues, however the cooking time!

By cooking meals for shorter lengths of time, strain cookers preserve the nutrients higher, regardless of cooking at greater temperatures.

Strain cooking preserves vitamins through the use of less water.

Why do health and vitamin specialists all the time inform you to provide choice to steaming vegetables over boiling them?

As a result of the nutrients leach out of the vegetable and into the water, after which we dump the water out when serving the veggies!

Strain cooking makes use of very little water in comparison with many other cooking methods, primarily appearing like a steam cooker where the steam isn’t allowed to flee simply (thereby building the air strain). Much less water comes into contact together with your meals to leach away vitamins and minerals.

And in the event you do as beneficial and let your strain cooker cool naturally earlier than eradicating the lid so that the steam condenses again into the small quantity of liquid within the pot, you’ll be able to eat all the liquid together with your meal and limit the lack of vitamins to water even further.

Strain cooking makes grains and legumes more digestible by decreasing phytic acid and lectins.

Yep, you learn that proper. The good enemies found in grains, seeds, and legumes are lowered much more by strain cooking than by boiling.

In this research carried out on peas, the phytic acid content material of peas soaked overnight after which boiled was only decreased by 29%. But in peas that had been soaked overnight and strain cooked, the phytic acid was lowered by 54%!

Phytic acid binds minerals and different necessary nutrients in our digestive tract, maintaining us from using them. By decreasing the phytic acid content material of grains and legumes, we improve their nutrient-availability and render them more digestible.

Strain cooking can also be on par with fermentation as the easiest way to scale back the lectins (yet one more anti-nutrient) in grains.

Seems, strain cooking may be the absolute best method to prepare dinner your soaked beans and grains!

What about acrylamides and different carcinogens?

Yes, high-temperature cooking of some foods, like potatoes, does cause the formation of carcinogenic compounds like acrylomides. But those same compounds won’t type in a strain cooker! That’s because of all the steam trapped in the cooker. Those compounds principally type in dry cooking methods like roasting or grilling, or in an ultra high-temperature setting like deep frying.

Swiss researchers needed to test this and found that potatoes cooked at excessive strain for 20 minutes had virtually no acrylamide formation when compared to other high-temperature cooking methods. (And since a potato shall be completed after about 10 minutes at excessive strain, this was undoubtedly overkill!)

However, doesn’t strain cooking nonetheless denature proteins in the food?

Yes. And so does every other cooking technique on the market! That is, in truth, one of the main things that cooking is meant to do. It begins the process of breaking down the proteins in the food, making the meals easier for us to digest and assimilate. “Denaturing” the proteins is what causes robust stew meat to grow to be tender when cooked. You want denatured proteins. That’s why you prepare dinner your food.

Actually, pressure-cooking arguably increases the digestibility of protein, as shown on this research that found that pressure-cooking soaked peas introduced their protein digestibility up to 84%, in comparison with 81% for these peas that have been just soaked and boiled normally. (Apparently, it drops all the best way down to only 74% when the peas are unsoaked and then boiled. YAY soaking!)

And, it’s not just peas. Many studies have been carried out on how pressure-cooking will increase the digestibility of proteins, together with this one achieved with mung beans and this one carried out with rice. It’s even been shown to make meat extra tender than boiling does (and more tender meat is demonstrably simpler for our our bodies to digest).

So, is strain cooking wholesome?

What do you assume? For me, it’s a powerful sure.

It is probably not superb for all issues. Vegetables, for instance, easily flip to mush in strain cookers in the event you’re not tremendous actual and attentive about timing.

However it will probably dramatically scale back cooking occasions and improve the digestibility of legumes and grains, so I’ve acquired no issues with that. I even found a recipe for strain cooker risotto I’m dying to attempt. (I actually dislike the fixed stirring needed for the “actual” stuff.)

And, it may be a superb selection for last-minute meals. If I miss putting my roast or roundsteak into my crockpot at mid-morning, I can simply begin strain cooking that very same meal later within the afternoon and still have a “quick” dinner on the desk that didn’t require us consuming out (or eating scrambled eggs!) because of my poor planning.


What concerning the argument that it’s unnatural or not conventional?

Perhaps I’ve satisfied you that strain cooking could be wholesome. But you still hesitate as a result of it’s not been a historically embraced technique of cooking. Making a strain distinction like that is unnatural, you say.

Right here’s the deal. The distinction within the boiling level of water in a strain cooker vs. Miami (sea degree) is the very same difference found between Miami and La Paz. That translates into WIDELY DIFFERENT prepare dinner occasions for roast — a distinction of many hours.

So ask yourself if the roast in Miami is one way or the other much less nutritious or digestible than the roast made in LaPaz. The answer is not any.

And that’s as a result of in each places, you cooked the roast until it was executed and not. Each roasts had the identical water loss. The only purpose one took far much less time to prepare dinner was that the higher air strain meant that you can prepare dinner it at a better temperature before you started dropping an excessive amount of water and overcooking the meals.

I get that strain cookers aren’t traditional, but neither is my convection toaster oven or my immersion blender. In all these instances, we’re just utilizing know-how to make our cooking more efficient.

It’s not “unnatural,” however sensible to take our breaks where we will get them.

The very fact is that the science exhibits strain cooking is healthy, that it may preserve extra heat-sensitive nutrients than some other cooking technique because of its shorter prepare dinner occasions. The very fact is that the distinction it creates in the boiling level of water is properly inside the vary of a traditional distinction on this planet.

Again, it’s the same distinction we see between Miami and La Paz. For those who used a strain cooker in La Paz, it will imply that you simply have been cooking your food within the size of time people dwelling in Florida take as a right. Would that be by some means unnatural or fallacious? No. It will be like cooking in Miami! And La Paz isn’t even the very best metropolis on the market. There are many others that exceed it in altitude by a mile or more. Their boiling points are even decrease! Their prepare dinner occasions even longer!

Strain cookers just use know-how and a nifty trick of physics to behave like an incredible equalizer. It just so occurs that for these of us who reside nearer to sea degree, who aren’t used to adjusting recipes for altitude and strain (in contrast to people who stay at some significantly excessive elevations), the difference in prepare dinner occasions appears someway surprising and exceptional.

Fascinated with buying a strain cooker?

You’re not alone! I simply acquired my first one and wrote a evaluation of it here.

(the place to buy strain cookers)

This publish has been edited from its unique content, largely because of some fascinating and stimulating Facebook discussions we’ve had about it. Principally, I simply compressed probably the most salient information from those other discussions into a new part titled “What concerning the argument that it’s unnatural or not conventional?”. I also clarified the which means of a couple sentences elsewhere in the submit. Thanks for all your help positive tuning this! You guys are awesome.

(vitamin chart knowledge source)

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