Ask the Diva: Does Overcooking Affect Protein Content?

A reader wonders whether overcooking seafood will render it less nutritious.

Monica Reinagel, MS, LD/N, CNS,
August 20, 2013

Q. I have a bad habit of cooking seafood so long, that it shrinks into tiny versions of the original. Am I just losing water and making the texture less than ideal, or am I losing nutritional value at the same time?  I eat seafood mostly for the protein. I would hate to be missing out on good nutrition because I got distracted and left a pot on the stove for too long.

A.  Cooking can degrade the nutritional value of foods, but as I discussed in the episode on How Cooking Affects Nutrients, some nutrients are more vulnerable than others. The good news for you is that over-cooking does not significantly reduce the amount of protein in your seafood.  

But if you're steaming or poaching your seafood in water, nutrients such as zinc, selenium, and omega-3s will tend to leach out into the cooking fluid. The longer you cook it, the greater the losses. And, as you've noticed, overcooking also tends to make seafood tough and rubbery. 

Why not enjoy your seafood to the fullest? Try setting a timer on your stove, watch, or smartphone as a reminder!

For more reader questions, and Nutrition Diva's answers, check out the entire Ask the Diva series.



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