News Feed: Healthier Ways to Cook Veggies, Pregnancy Obesity Risks and Silk Coats for Fruit

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Top view of healthy fresh vegetables

Healthier veggie prep

We all know vegetables are healthy, but some ways of preparing them are healthier than others. In general, cooked beats raw, CNN reports, noting, “Studies show the process of cooking actually breaks down tough outer layers and cellular structure of many vegetables, making it easier for your body to absorb their nutrients.”

While the ideal method may differ slightly for different vegetables, the news site reports, as a rule of thumb it’s often best to steam (don’t boil) or microwave your veggies and “keep cooking time, temperature and the amount of liquid to a minimum.” Then throw in a wee bit of olive oil and you’re good to go.

Best ‘metabolic start’

Eating for two may require some restraint. Women who gain an excessive amount of weight (more than 40 pounds) or have elevated blood sugar levels during pregnancy may “imprint” their children with obesity – increasing the children’s risk of obesity later even if they are born at a normal weight — a new study by researchers at Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research has concluded.

“What we think is happening is the baby is adapting to an overfed environment, either because of high glucose or excess weight gain,” Dr. Teresa Hillier, of Kaiser Permanente, told UPI. “Metabolic imprinting, or obesity imprinting, is what we’re talking about. We don’t really understand why it’s happening but we know it’s happening.” Hillier advocates following standard medical recommendations for exercise and diet during pregnancy — and gaining neither too much nor too little weight — in order to give children the best “metabolic start” in life.

Silky stay-fresh solution

Fruit is yummy and healthy when it’s fresh. But when it’s well past its prime? Not so much. But biomedical engineering researchers at Tufts University say they may have found a way to keep fruits and vegetables fresh longer — by coating them in edible silk.

The researchers, who published their findings in the journal Scientific Reports, report they were able to extend the life of strawberries and bananas by coating them with a micrometer-thin membrane of edible silk fibroin, which had the effect of “slowing fruit respiration, extending fruit firmness and preventing dehydration.” The researchers cite U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization estimates that about half the world’s crops produced for human consumption are lost somewhere along the food supply chain, “mostly due to the premature deterioration of perishable crops.” Given that fact, they note, an edible, “flavorless and odorless” coating that keeps them fresh may have major benefits.

Amy Reiter is a writer and editor based in New York. A regular contributor to The Los Angeles Times, she has also written for The New York Times, The Washington Post, Glamour, Marie Claire, The Daily Beast and Wine Spectator, among others, as well as for Salon, where she was a longtime editor and senior writer. In addition to contributing to Healthy Eats, she blogs for Food Network’s FN Dish.