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What happens to food when we cook?

You will be surprised that our bodies contain and use many compounds, such as carbohydrates, proteins, lipids, vitamins, and minerals.
Humans cannot manufacture these compounds, and we need to get them from food.

Grains, fruits, vegetables, raw meat, fish, nuts and milk contain all the nutrients our bodies need. They are healthy and help us in many ways.

Research has shown that the way we cook and different temperatures affect the sensory evaluation properties of the foods, along with shape and consistency. Also, the cooking process reduces or deplete many compounds and give room to new ones.
Excellent examples are:

1) The retention of vitamins when we cook, such as Vitamins B and C.
2)The different shapes, consistency, and flavours of many loaves of bread, baking products, and candy.
3) Depletion of carbohydrates during coffee roasting.
4) New compounds appear like Acrylamide during cooking.

These are just a few examples of the fascinating world of cooking.

We have a different way of cooking and different meaning.

Cooking has a different meaning and includes different ways. A chef cooks for his customers and usually for a company. Consequently, he has to find a different solution to offer excellent and appealing food. At the same time, the food has to comply with the law and should respect the guidelines dictated by the company and the marketing.
Cooking and creating food for a manufacturer means a high production volume at a reasonable price. Cooking at home for family and friends is not only cooking, but it is an emotional experience often associated with an event.

Different ways of cooking include:

Many people use “roast” and “baking” as synonymous, but professional chefs make some difference. Roasting and baking mean cooking something in the oven, uncovered and not in direct contact with the heat source. Roasting occurs at a higher temperature than baking and gives foods more brown colours. That explains why we roast superior cuts of meat like Beef Joints, Pork Shoulders and others. No one ever dreamed of roasting a cheesecake.
during high temperatures, two critical chemical processes happen:
Caramelisation and Maillard reaction.

The caramelisation process involves sugars. During cooking, molecules lose water, and sugars molecules rejoin each other differently, colouring the food. Maillard reaction is slightly different as it involves sugars and amino acids (protein components). It occurs in low levels of water. It gives colours and flavours that happen in cooking bread or meats.

Acrylamide is a compound that has been shown to have carcinogenic properties, consequently increasing the risk of cancer. During Maillard’s reaction, Acrylamine occurs. As these compounds appear in high temperatures, we can find Acrylamide in fried foods.

Boiling. Boiling happens when a liquid becomes gas. The water boiling point of water is about 100 degrees celsius. To achieve boiling, we pass through three different stages, including simmering. We can get so many more nutrients from cooking food using the boiling process than roasting. Stocks used for flavourings our dishes are an excellent example of that. Soups and stew are plenty of nutrients, and they do not get lost unless we eliminate the liquid.
In other words, some food can lose nutritional value when we boil in water, and we get rid of the water. What happens when we blanch vegetables or when we cook pasta. Try to cook the macaroni pasta in the same stock you used to blanch the cauliflower and see the difference. It is an excellent habit to reuse the vegetable stock or pasta stock that will minimise the retention of the nutrients and give extra flavour.

Steaming is one of the best methods to cook healthy food. Cooking using steaming occurs when we cook food in the presence of steam, a specific gas form. Steaming reduces the nutrients’ retention and keeps an appealing colour of the vegetables and foods. Usually includes pressurised water at high temperatures.

Frying. Frying occurs when we cook food at high temperatures by using the heat surrounding the food’s surface. What happens when we cover a chicken breast with flour, eggs and breadcrumbs (Paneé), and we put in the hot oil.
The hot oil does not go through the panéé that protects the food. The heat goes inside by conducting and cooking the food. At the same time, due to the high temperatures, water starts to steam. The steam forms the bubble we see going up on the oil surface. By eliminating water, protein in food becomes more dry and chemical reactions make the surface crispy.
Healthy consumers and experts suggested reducing the number of deep-fried foods and opened a considerable debate regarding food retention and healthy consumption.

However, research has shown that deep-fried food made in certain conditions can be less harmful to our bodies and brain.
Using fresh and cleaned oil specified for vegetable use.
Make a good panée that protects the food’s surface and drain the oil in excess. That will preserve the food to become socky.

Braising. Braising some food gives excellent flavour and texture. Braising occurs in the low presence of liquid compared to boiling and low temperature, which will help the food to become tender. The retention of nutrients is minimal and is considered a healthy way to cook. Pork shoulder is usually braised before becoming Pulled Pork.

Microwave. Strangely microwave is one of the healthier ways to cook. Compared to boiling and blanching, a microwave has a lower loss of nutrients, it also takes less time, and unfortunately, it cannot be used for family. Please note that we are talking about cooking. Many people today use the microwave at home to reheat processed foods. That is far different from cooking.


Our bodies contain and use many compounds that we find in nature. We cannot manufacture them, and we need to get them from food. During cooking, different chemical reactions happen that deplete some food and give new compounds. Retention of food also occurs. We have different ways to cook, and some of them prevent losing nutritional value compared to others.

Cooking and Nutrients Retention Facts


Most of vitamins B and C go lost during roasting and baking.


The Caramelisation stage occurs at 110 to 160 Celsius degrees. It comes in three different stages, and different temperature gives the sugar consistency to many candies.


The Maillard reaction is a necessary chemical process that gives colours and flavour to our foods. No colour, no flavour!

Cooking and food retention

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