Maria Teresa De Donato, PhD, RND, CNC, CMH, CHom
For the past two decades, thanks to the flourishing of alternative medicines aiming at obtaining a state of optimum health and well-being through the return to nature, a more balancend and healthier diet and lifestyle, as Westerners, we have been literally overwhelmed by a wave of information – sometimes even contradictory – about what should be seen as the best foods: raw or cooked? And how about microwaves?
To properly answer these questions and determine the best way to consume foods, we need to consider some key aspects beginning with the need to preserve the nutrients they contain and which are necessary for a healthy diet and hygiene. Let's start with cooking: this method has its own advantages but also some disadvantages. In the cases of meat and fish, for example, a complete cooking allows for the elimination of a number of microorganisms through which the meat can come into contact of psychrotrophic bacteria that grow in them – including the Acinetabarater, Maraxella and Pseudornanas. The latter by altering them cause a change both in their smell and their color which turns into a grayish hues while a low-level of moisture can encourage the development of molds that give the meat a greenish color. Simply stated, then, thanks to the high temperatures that it reaches, cooking becomes an ideal tool to solve and even avoid all these problems.
In the case of vegetables, on the other hand, the opposite is true: once we have washed them is preferable that they are consumed after being lightly cooked, steamed, or eaten raw (which is also the best way to eat fruit) so that the body can absorb all the nutrients they contain, that is vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, essential oils and enzymes, which are all fundamental for proper nutrition, digestion and optimum health. For hygienic reasons, however, it is always recommended to consume raw foods when eating at home and to opt for thoroughly cooked foods when having lunch or dinner out.
As for the microwave ovens, though they may be used to warm up food – better if only for a few seconds – in reality they are not advisable for cooking. Why? The reason is simple: the microwaves that they produce are a type of electro-magnet energy, like radio waves, each containing a magnetron, that is a sort of tube in which the activities of electric and magnetic fields affect electrons. In plain English, this means that the radiation from microwaves interacts with food’s molecules and alters their structure through a radioactive process called ‘nuclear disintegration’. It goes without saying, therefore, that microwaves should never be used for cooking, but only, and if necessary, to warm up food.
At this point some might be wondering how to preserve all the foods’ nutrients required for a healthy diet and at the same time keep them in an optimal condition until they are eaten.
In this regard buying a solar dryer for foods – vegetables, fruits, meat, and fish – and for medicinal and aromatic plants may serve the needs of both family as well as the small and industrial productions. We may want to buy one which operates in full compliance with organic and biodynamic processes and requires no fuel nor produces harmful emissions for human health or the environment but rather uses exclusively solar energy.
Although they may sound revolutionary, some kinds of dryers utilize the oldest tradition of food preservation: drying. The latter, through the dehydration process, eliminates all the problems previously mentioned related to bacteria, moulds and microorganisms, which contaminate and alter foods and make them toxic and, consequently, harmful to human health. Furthermore, by not using additives either, it allows excellent quality foods by preserving their natural state, and, therefore, all the nutrients a healthy diet should include.
Thanks to a modern and innovative technology, some dryers transform the solar energy in an abundant amount of hot air able to dry the foods while maintaining their intrinsic qualities unchanged, which is also a fundamental factor in cases of the treatment of medicinal herbs. Drying occurs very quickly, away from atmospheric agents and from anything that could contaminate the purity of the product.
Other important technical aspects to consider when buying a dryer are, therefore, a temperature that never exceeds 50° (= 122 F.) and a resistant and durable shield to protect foods against UVA and which safeguards, this way, all their organoleptic (physical and chemical) properties.
We look forward to working with you!
Author: Copyright©2012-2015. Maria Teresa De Donato. All rights reserved
Photos: Copyright©2012-2015. Paolo Trotta. All rights reserved
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