So why do we cook? Do we really need to cook in the first place? Here are 7 reasons why we cook food before we eat.
There is this story which goes this way. That a farmer and his son lived in a small farm house where they rear pigs. One day, the father went out hunting. But by the time he returned, their entire house got burnt, including where the pigs were. Of course the pigs were killed by the fire. But the father, surprisingly met his son poking his right index finger into one of the burnt pigs and was licking it satisfactorily.
The father, not understanding what to do, decided to join his son. He immediately realized how delicious the meat was. And from that time onwards, they would intentionally set fire to whatever they wanted to eat. And that was how cooking started.
Whether this story is true or not, it gives a pleasant idea of how applying heat to food can impact food. Here are seven good reasons why it is important cook food before being eating.
1. NUTRIENTS ARE REALEASED
Foods contain nutrients that the body needs to maintain and repair tissues and carry out important functions. Nutrients are divided into macro and micronutrients. Macronutrients, we know as carbohydrates, proteins and fats. Micronutrients are mainly vitamins and minerals.
These nutrients are within the matrix of the food. Some are even bound to anti-nutrients, thereby limiting their availability for the body’s usage. Cooking the increases the bioavailability of those nutrients for the body.
2. FOOD BECOMES SAFE
Cooking destroys toxins, microbes and other elements in the food that may make it unsafe for consumption. Raw meat and fish can contain microbes like Salmonella spp, Escherichia coli, Campylobacter jejuni, and other pathogens that cause foodborne diseases (don’t fret about mentioning those microbes’ names).
Cooking can destroy most or even all of these pathogens. There are some plant toxins that can also be reduced by cooking. Or the enzymes which produces those toxins can be destroyed during cooking. Phytohemagglutinin is a toxin in kidney beans that can cause blood cells to clump together. Cooking reduces the level of this toxin, which makes the food safer for consumption
3. FLAVOURS ARE FORMED
You remember how incredibly delicious that steak was? Or was it the cake at your coworker’s birthday party? Without cooking, you definitely wouldn’t have experienced those flavors. Cooking causes important flavors to be formed. Caramelization and Maillard reaction are two important reactions that happen during cooking. These reactions cause flavor and aroma compounds to be formed.
4. FOOD IS MORE EASILY DIGESTED
Those nutrients released during cooking become more available for the body to use. Aside that they have been partially broken down during cooking. The body is thus left with much less work to do in terms of digestion. Food is more easily digested when cooked. Hard textured meat becomes softer and juicy, making it easier to eat and digest.
5. FOOD BECOMES MORE EATABLE
Imagine munching on some soybeans! How does that sound as compared to fried tofu? Food simply becomes more eatable when cooked, more delicious and palatable.
6. HARMONIZE INGREDIENTS
Through cooking, different ingredients are able to complement or come together into one awesome taste. There are some ingredients that complement each other. Other ingredients mask others. And there are still some that simply standout in the dish no matter what. All these make food more appealing and flavorful.
7. DEVELOP DESIRABLE TEXTURES IN FOOD
Apart from flavors and appearances, cooking also enables food to develop desirable textures. Starches, depending on the cooking method can become gelatinous. Cake rises during baking and gives this it spongy feel. Fat melts and adds smoothness to food. All these properties are usually desirable in food.
Cooking food makes it taste incredibly delicious, makes to develop flavors and textures that are absolutely mouthwatering. Additionally, it makes food safer for consumption and releases nutrients for the body’s usage.