The USDA's 2010 report, Dietary Guidelines for Americans, recommends increasing the amount of fruits and vegetables we eat each day. The report notes that it is particularly important to increase our consumption of dark green, red and orange vegetables. According to the Eating Well website, Americans only eat about one third of the amount of vegetables they should. Microwave steam bag vegetables are a healthy solution for those who want to increase their vegetable intake without sacrificing convenience.
Creams and Sauces
Plain steamed vegetables are always a healthy addition to any diet. However, some food makers offer steam bag vegetables with added sauces, cheeses or creams. These additions are often very high in saturated fat, cholesterol, sodium and/or sugar. If you prefer not to eat bare vegetables, add small amounts of low-fat, low cholesterol or low-sodium toppings such as olive oil, salt-free seasoning mixes, citrus juices, honey or low-sodium soy sauce. It may also be beneficial to explore the addition of other low-calorie vegetables with potent flavors such as fresh minced garlic or fresh herbs.
Steaming vs. Boiling
One reason steam bag vegetables are good for you is that they offer a healthier alternative to other cooking methods. While vegetables are often boiled, this preparation method depletes some of the nutrient content such as folic acid and vitamin C. Steaming vegetables in bags requires a minimal amount of time and water, the two things that are responsible for loss of nutrients while cooking. As cooking time and added water increases, water-soluble vitamin content decreases.
Fiber and Nutrients
Steam bag vegetables are not only still rich in fiber by the time they reach your table, but they're also rich in insoluble fiber. This is the material in vegetables that cannot be digested, but contributes to a feeling of fullness which helps you limit calories. Fiber-rich foods also promote healthy digestive system functioning. While fresh fruits and vegetables should be the first choice, steam bag vegetables are still a comparable and healthy choice.
Microwave Steaming Bag Safety
You may have concerns related to the safety of microwaving steam bag vegetables. These bags are sold with the vegetables inside and as stand-alone products. In general, microwaving foods in plastic containers may carry some health risks due to the transmission of BPA and pthalates from the plastic to the food. However, the bags specifically manufactured for use in microwave steaming do not contain BPA or pthalates. Further, many other types of plastic containers on the market today are safe for microwave use. Still, you should use steam bags as described by the manufacturer and not reuse them for other purposes.