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The healthiest way to cook vegetables is…

Photo: Keenan Loo/Unsplash
Photo: Keenan Loo/Unsplash

You pile your shopping cart full of fresh produce and know your way around a satisfying stir fry or killer kale salad. But are you getting the most out of your nutrient-packed vegetables? That depends on how you’re prepping them.

A new scientific review has found that steaming your vegetables may boost their nutritional value, making them even healthier. Lettuce explain. (Sorry. We had to.)

Researchers analyzed 21 studies that looked at how different cooking methods affect the nutritional density of vegetables, Men’s Health reports, and steaming beet out the competition. (OK, we’re done with the puns now.) Steaming can increase polyphenol content (a type of antioxidant that may fend off cancer, cardiovascular disease, and other health concerns) by 52 percent, since it uses a gentle heating process and doesn’t submerge the vegetables in water, according to Elizabeth H. Jeffrey, a professor of nutritional sciences at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Regardless of how you choose to cook your veggies (roasting, and sautéing, and grilling, oh my!), researchers advise that you avoid cooking them for too long at high temperatures, which will actually destroy more antioxidants. So while there’s no wrong way to eat vegetables, consider investing in a steamer basket for the most antioxidant-packed punch.

Where to start with steaming? If you’re a greens lover, here’s our guide to dark leafy goodness. Or start your day with steamed veggies in this gut-healthy Superhuman Breakfast.