Researchers associate many health conditions with common foods and the cooking methods people use to prepare them. For example, more people than ever consume junk food on a regular basis. Unfortunately, trans fats are raising those people’s cholesterol and resulting in heart disease and stroke. As a reaction to that worrisome trend, steaming and boiling are becoming popular cooking methods.
So what is steaming? Steaming is a moist-heat cooking technique in which you place your raw food over boiling water. The food should not come into contact with the water–you should place it in a dish and then place the dish directly above the water. The vessel will capture the steam, which will then cook your food. But what about the boiling part? When you’re ready to boil your food, submerge it raw and cook it until it’s ready.
So, is steaming or boiling better? Since many foods can be prepared using either method, it’s essential to recognize the benefits of each of them.
If you enjoy eating a plate of crispy, fresh vegetables with a unique taste, steaming is the way to go. If you steam your veggies, you won’t have to worry about trans fats since you won’t be adding any fats throughout the process. For that reason, calories won’t be a concern either.
Unlike boiling, where most nutrients remain in the water, the nutrients remain intact while you steam your food. That means that you’ll metabolize the food’s minerals, enzymes, and vitamins in their original forms. And if you have digestion problems, steamed food’s tender texture facilitates smooth and painless digestion.
Have you ever craved a specific kind of food and then lost your appetite for it upon seeing it? That’s probably because the food was mushy and colorless. You’ll never experience that effect with steamed food because it retains its lovely color and crispiness. It’s also not overcooked or waterlogged.
Steaming is also cost-friendly and versatile. You can cook a myriad of dishes using this method regardless of their recipe. And, since steaming involves zero added fats, your food won’t produce unpleasant odors. Overall, your meal will be healthier and tastier.
Boiling is another healthy way to cook your food. One of its most prominent benefits is that it makes your food safer by killing harmful microorganisms. For that reason, some people first boil their food before frying it.
Cancer is among the most dreaded health conditions in the world. Boiling food increases the release of antioxidants that aid in preventing the premature aging of your cells. It also protects the body from the spread of cancerous cells.
Various foods contain oxalates, or compounds promoting the formation of harmful kidney stones. Thankfully, boiling can help you avoid consuming oxalates by removing up to 87% of them from your meals. Also, boiled food has a higher nutritional retention rate than steamed food.
Many people suffer from stomach ulcers due to Helicobacter pylori. When you boil food, it won’t have such a harmful effect on your stomach lining because it’ll have a softer consistency and its nutrients will be consumed in simpler forms.
Boiling is a versatile method because it reduces your prep time and doesn’t constantly require your attention. Remember, the odds of your food getting charred are low. Unlike frying, which demands your full attention, with boiling you simply add your ingredients to the pot, cover it, and then move on.
With the two methods in mind, here are the most notable difference between steaming and boiling your food.
If you compare these two methods in terms of their time commitment, you’ll see that steaming requires less time than boiling. When steaming, you can cook other dishes using the same heat source, which makes your cooking more efficient.
With boiling, water drains most of the nutrients from the food, which results in a major loss of nutrients. Unless you’re preparing soup, this method is not preferable for those who prioritize their nutritional intake. On the other hand, steaming helps retain the nutrients in your food during preparation. Some may be lost, but your food will still offer a much more robust nutritional profile than if you had boiled it.
Boiling helps kill harmful bacteria and other microorganisms, making it an excellent method for those who care about food safety. Boiling produces food that is likely more fit for consumption than steamed food.
Color, Taste, and Texture
Boiling makes your vegetables dull, soggy, and sloppy. It also negatively affects their color, texture, and taste. On the other hand, steamed food does not come into contact with water. As a result, it’s crisp and retains its bright colors.
If you want your fish and veggies to retain their original flavor, you need to steam them. If you boil them, the water will interfere with alter their flavor.
Between boiling and steaming, which is the better method? The type of food you’re preparing may be the deciding factor here. If you want to cook corn on the cob, you’d be better off boiling. But for other vegetables and fish, either method would be suitable. In the end, both are effective as long as you’re monitoring your caloric intake.
If you’re concerned about taste, texture, color, and flavor, steam your food. If food safety is your primary concern, you should boil it.
If you want a healthy preparation strategy for your food, both boiling and steaming are effective strategies. Even better, you can use both methods for a variety of dishes. In terms of safety, boiled food is considered safer. But if you want your food to have higher nutritional value, color, taste, and texture, steaming would serve you better.