Knives have lots of uses in the kitchen. If you want to get really fancy, the right knife, as well as the right method, can produce the perfect julienne or chiffonade. But there are other things using the right knife can do you may not be aware of — yet. One of the most important is increasing the nutrients foods provide your body.
Not so long ago, aspiring chefs were all about tearing their leafy greens so they wouldn’t bruise them. Chopping lettuce and spinach for a salad was considered gauche. An article in The Conversation captures the chef’s dilemma very well:
'For a long time, we’ve believed tearing vegetables, especially salad leaves, is the best way to preserve their nutrients. The idea is that tearing leaves disrupts the cells of the plant less than chopping. Chopping slices straight through cells allowing their contents to spill out. This means nutrients, especially minerals such as potassium can leak away.'
Chopping Vegetables Releases More Polyphenols
There’s a (relatively) new school of thought, however, that says chopping vegetables — at least some of them — increases the polyphenols they provide. Only available from plants, polyphenols have several different jobs, such as providing the plant’s color and protecting the plant against damage from ultraviolet radiation.
If certain vegetables get nicked or cut, such as celery, parsnips and lettuce, they’ll produce more polyphenols to defend against further damage. If an animal is trying to eat it, for instance, the bitterness of the polyphenols may keep them from taking a second bite.In humans, chopping veggies or slicing them may make the bioactive compounds in them more bioavailable, and health benefits can be derived from “synergistic” combinations of phytochemicals.