The longer fruits and vegetables sit before they are eaten, the less nutrients available to you. Cooking produce often reduces nutrient content as well. When you choose fruits and vegetables you want your body to have access to the most vitamins and minerals possible so proper care and preparation of your food is important for this reason.
Where you keep your fruits and vegetables has an impact on the amount of vitamins and minerals you are able to get from them. The Cooperative Extension System recommends storing your produce in the refrigerator to preserve nutrition and flavor. One exception is tomatoes, which should be stored at room temperature. If you don't plan to eat your fruits and vegetables within a couple days they should be frozen, which stops nutrient loss until they are thawed. If possible, choose fruits and vegetables that are kept cold at the supermarket since you can never be sure how long they have sat there. Reducing contact with air further slows nutrient loss so placing your produce in air tight containers is another step for preservation of vitamins and minerals.
Dehydrating fruits and vegetables is a good way to preserve the nutrients they contain. According to the Fruit and Veggie Guru, dehydrating produce on a low setting preserves most if not all of the nutrients they have available. Dehydrated fruits and vegetables make a good snack and are simple to prepare. Choices that work well in a dehydrator include pears, apples, pineapples, corn, carrots, beets, peaches and potatoes. It is also possible to dry fruits and vegetables in the oven or in the sun. The foods you choose will need to blanched before you attempt to dry them.
Using little to no water when you cook your fruits and vegetables will preserve much of the nutrients they have to offer, according to the Cooperative Extension System. This is because many vitamins and minerals are sensitive to heat and air. Steaming, microwaving and stir-frying fruits and vegetables are good cooking techniques that use small amount of liquid. When you cook your produce it is important not to chop them into small pieces because the less surface area there is the more quickly nutrient loss will occur. For this reason, it is better to chop after the food is cooked. Covering your pots as you cook means that fruits and vegetables cook faster, reducing the amount of vitamins and minerals that are lost.