Why food is cooked

Why food is cooked

The Importance of Cooking Food

  • Kills harmful bacteria and pathogens: Cooking at high temperatures destroys harmful microbes, reducing the risk of food poisoning and infections like salmonella and E coli.

  • Makes digestion easier: When food is warmed, it breaks down into simpler compounds that can be more easily absorbed by the body. This process of breaking down complex proteins into amino acids and complex carbohydrates into simpler sugars is critical for digestion.

Enhancing Food Quality and Taste

  • Develops flavours: Cooking stimulates a series of chemical reactions, like the Maillard reaction and caramelization, that develops rich flavours and appealing aromas in food.

  • Improves texture: Techniques such as baking or frying can give food a more desirable texture, while others like braising can make tough cuts of meat tender.

Nutritional Value and Bioavailability

  • Increases nutrient bioavailability: Cooking foods like vegetables and legumes can enhance certain nutrient levels and makes them more ‘bioavailable’, or easier for our bodies to utilise.

  • Reduces anti-nutrients: Raw food contains anti-nutrients like phytic acid and lectins that can inhibit the absorption of nutrients. Cooking neutralises or reduces these compounds.

Food Preservation

  • Preservation and storage: By eliminating microbes and dehydrating food, cooking can help extend the shelf life of certain food items. Techniques such as canning and pasteurisation are examples of this.

  • Improving palatability of preserved food: The process of cooking also helps to restore the taste and texture of food that has been preserved, such as dried or canned vegetables, making it more palatable.

Always take care when cooking to preserve the maximum amount of nutrients and remember the importance of a balanced diet.