If You Have a Choice Then Bake It

Healthy diet is the first step towards fostering good health.

Eating healthy is not limited to adding fruits and vegetables to your diet. For a healthy diet, replace refined foods with whole grain foods, reduce salt and sugar intake, limit alcohol intake and fat consumption.

It also has a lot to do with the method of cooking which impacts the nutritional value and fat content of the dish. If you are watching your weight or suffering from a chronic condition like diabetes or hypertension, stay clear of deep-fried dishes. Rather, one must switch from frying to baking instead. This healthier option is the best way to reduce fat consumption.

Is Baked Food Healthy — Baking is a much-preferred cooking technique recommended by experts; it’s healthy for everyone in the family. Apart from breads and desserts, baking can also be used to cook seafood, poultry, lean meat and vegetables. Let us understand why baking is the most preferred cooking option.

Why is Baking Healthy?

Normally we choose different cooking methods – baking, grilling, deep frying, stir-frying, etc., depending on the type of food we want to make and the cooking time involved. Each method has its own advantages and disadvantages. It’s baking which is the healthiest cooking method of all techniques.

For example, when frying is involved in cooking food, oil or fat is used which are high in calories. Whether it is deep-frying, shallow-frying or stir-frying, all techniques involve the use of added fat for browning the food by submerging it in hot oil/fat for cooking. Absorption of oil while frying adds to the calory count of food, making it unhealthy.

Deep-fried foods, such as French fries and samosa, offer little or no nutritional value and put you at high risk of health conditions like heart disease and cancer. This is because deep-frying and pan-frying absorbs very high fat from the cooking medium of oil/fat and the formation of acrylamide, a carcinogen (cancer-causing substance). The high temperature in frying causes starch in the food to convert to carcinogens. This makes frying very unhealthy.

Deep frying at high temperatures with starchy foods can lead to oxidation of oils. Oxidised oils can be damaging to the heart, lungs and kidneys. It also leads to high blood pressure and atherosclerosis. Last and not least, many deep-fried foods available in restaurants and packaged foods are cooked in partially-hydrogenated oils like lard to increase their shelf life and enhance the taste. Intake of these oils/fats can reduce the effectiveness of immune system and promote obesity, stroke and diabetes.

Baking, on the other hand, cuts down on the intake of fats and calories which helps in maintaining a healthy weight and diet. Baking is a dry-heat cooking method in which food is ‘roasted’ at high temperatures in the oven. In this method, moisture within the food is converted to steam that combines with the dry heat of the oven to cook. It requires little or no added fat.

Moreover, any excess fat drains out during baking if we use a roasting rack. As baking requires no added oil, it does not cause any reaction in foods or any oxidation, thus making it a healthier option. Meats, fish and vegetables can be cooked by baking. As baking requires little or no added oil, there is a reduced risk of heart disease and other unhealthy conditions.

Baking helps in retaining the nutrients in foods without adding any extra salt or fat. Baking helps capture and infuse the original flavours of the ingredients present in the dish. This makes the final baked dish flavourful and enticing. Baking helps people who want to maintain a healthy lifestyle or are on special diets or weight loss programmes. Those who want to maintain a healthy lifestyle can adopt the baking method of cooking.

While comparing the benefits and negative aspects of both frying and baking techniques, it’s frying that adds a considerable amount of fat to foods while ‘little or no fat’ is necessary for baking. The choice is very clear.

For the road

Use marinades, fresh hot peppers, citrus juices and fresh or dried herbs to spice up your meal rather than relying on fat for the flavour. One can simply top baked fish with lemon juice and black pepper, or marinade it in a mixture of olive oil and spices before baking to curate a flavourful dish.

With baking, it’s always bon appetit.

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