Are Pressure Cooker or Instant Pot Meals Healthy?

A dietitian weighs in on this cooking trend for busy lifestyles
instant pot meal

Cooking in an “instant pot” or pressure cooker is a great method for preparing your food on many levels — including the nutritional level, according to registered dietitian Beth Czerwony, MS, RD, CSOWM, LD.

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“Instant pot recipes are absolutely healthy as long as what you put in the recipe is healthy,” she says.

The shorter cooking time may also result in the greater preservation of vitamins and minerals when compared to other longer types of cooking.

“This style of cooking is especially beneficial for those who lead a busy life but still wish to eat healthy in a more efficient way — so you’re getting the best of both worlds,” Czerwony adds. 

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While nutritionists agree the pressure cooking style preserves a higher level of nutrient retention, many others also agree this method of food preparation allows for better taste and texture, too.

Czerwony says it’s also important to keep in mind the type of dish that would benefit most from this type of preparation — like soups, stews, or whole grain or brown rice dishes. (If you’re hoping to enjoy a simple plate full of vibrant green broccoli for example, a pressure cooker may not be your best option).

As people are cooking at home more, there is also an economic benefit of using a pressure cooker appliance. Cheaper cuts of meats and dried beans are more budget friendly and can easily be cooked in this type of appliance. 

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Cooking in bulk and freezing for later also helps when you don’t feel like cooking but still wish to retain nutrients and flavor. This also helps with portion control so you waste less food. 

Some instant pot models offer other benefits. One model offers a sous vide option. This is a style of preparation that cooks the meat in a warm water bath for a long period of time, but does all the cooking in the bag. All you have to do is give the meat some grill marks and you’re ready.  Air frying options are also available on some models, which decreases the need for more gadgets and takes up less counter space. 

“There are many benefits of cooking with an instant pot. Just remember, the healthiest recipes include foods that are healthy from the start — so begin with nutrition-packed ingredients and simply adjust the cooking process for the instant pot you own,” she emphasizes.

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