A reader asks the following question:
“I like the convenience of slow cookers but how healthy are they?”
Please join this discussion and post your comments. I’d love to hear your thoughts. Here’s what I think . . .
Slow Cookers – Depends on Your Time
Truthfully, I can’t find any research regarding any health benefits or drawbacks to slow cookers. So I can only answer this based on my thought process. The obvious benefit to slow cookers is that you can put your ingredients into the slow cooker in the morning and have dinner ready when you come home. The downfall is that prolonged exposure to heat can damage some nutrients.
What makes slow cookers win out, for me, is the use of low heat. Most cooking methods boiling, frying, baking, etc. all use high heats but slow cookers use lower heat. There is a downside (again) since most slow cookers will be cooking the food for much longer periods of time than other methods of cooking.
Another interesting aspect of slow cookers is that they remain sealed during cooking so nutrients may be released into the liquid. Plus, some recipes (like soups and chili) just seem to taste better when they’ve had the opportunity to slow simmer and blend the flavors.
With out the benefit of hard science there really isn’t a definite answer about how healthy slow cookers are. So, I think it depends on your alternatives. If you would otherwise pick up food from a restaurant – slow cookers are healthier. If you were going to fry or boil your meat for a long time – slow cookers are healthier.
For quick meals on busy days, I won’t give up my slow cooker. I love walking into the house with the smell of homemade food. Until there is some real research in the health area of slow cooking foods, do what works for your family. At least you are providing a home cooked meal where you know the quality of the ingredients.
Looking for ideas on integrating Slow Cookers into your meal plans? Make a plan to attend this upcoming online-class!