Frying vegetables in extra virgin olive oil is healthier than boiling them and prevents cancer research suggests
Vegetables fried in the oil increased in their anti-oxidant capacity and chemicals which prevent long-term diseases
Frying vegetables is healthier than boiling them and the way we perceive healthy cooking is about to be majorly re-shaped, a study by a Spanish university has shown.
It is often thought that by choosing how we cook our spuds and greens, we either make a healthy or an unhealthy meal.
Over the years, research has led us to believe that frying vegetables is a big no-no, and masks the antioxidant properties with a thick layer of fat.
However, the results of a series of experiments have turned official advice on its head.
Research has found that potatoes and other vegetables kept more of their health-boosting compounds when fried in olive oil than when boiled in water.
The study has proved that vegetables fried in extra virgin olive oil increased their anti-oxidant capacity and chemicals which prevent long-term diseases such as cancer, diabetes and loss of eyesight.
The researchers set out to discover the effects of various cooking methods on the healthiness of vegetables commonly eaten in the Mediterranean diet, such as potatoes, tomatoes, pumpkin and aubergine.
In a controlled experiment researchers cooked four ounces of each vegetable by frying in olive oil, boiling in water or boiling in a mix of the two following traditional Spanish recipes.
The results showed that using olive oil for frying vegetables increased their fat content and reduced moisture, something not seen in other cooking methods.
Co-author Professor Cristina Samaniego Sanchez, a professor at the University of Granada said: “We can confirm that frying is the method that produces the greatest associated increases in the phenolic fraction, which means an improvement in the cooking process although it increases the energy density by means of the absorbed oil.
"When the phenolic content of the raw vegetable is high, the total content of phenols is increased even more if EVOO is used in the process, and boiling doesn't affect the final concentration.
“Therefore, we must stress that frying and sautéing conserve and enhance the phenolic composition.
“Hydrothermal cooking methods can be recommended when the food is consumed together with the cooking water, as the addition of EVOO improves the phenolic profile and compensates for the deficiencies of the raw food."
In some cases, boiling the vegetables in water reduced their health-boosting properties.
The findings are revealed in the science publication Food Chemistry.