Are Pressure Cookers Safe OR Healthy?
Right off the bat we can get the safety issue out of the way. Most modern pressure cookers have built-in safety features, so as long as you follow directions and use common sense, you don't have to worry about kitchen explosions or getting injured while making dinner.
When it comes to convenience, pressure cookers SAVE THE DAY!
Below I'll share about why I'm completely comfortable using our pressure cooker to serve healthy meals to my family, but first I'll tell you WHY I love it from a convenience standpoint:
Apparently I have too many things going on around here everyday (like all of you I'm sure!) and most of the time I can't seem to get my head out of my ___ and remember to pull meat out of the freezer early enough in the day so it has time to cook and be done by suppertime. A pressure cooker comes through BIG because food takes only a fraction of the time to cook, and for work-outside-the-home parents: WOW, what a dream for you!
What about health-wise, are pressure cookers a healthy way to cook?
This issue is still hotly debated, but I've been convinced that this is A-okay, and here are a few reasons why…
- It’s like arguing that food cooked in Miami (where the boiling point of water is 212*F) is somehow less nutritious than food cooked in an Andean or Himalayan village (where the boiling point of water is 190*F) just because the air pressure and boiling point are higher in Miami… The only reason one took far less time to cook was that the higher air pressure meant that you could cook it at a higher temperature before you started losing too much water and overcooking the food. (Source)
- Many say, “Pressure cooking denatures proteins.” To that, Kris, the Toledo Weston A. Price chapter leader, replies, “Collagen is an insoluble protein that must be denatured to produce soluble gelatin that we can consume, but that does not mean the amino acids or proteins are destroyed or that gelatin is not useful. Enzymes lose their function if they are ‘denatured' but collagen is not an enzyme. I am not convinced that pressure cooking is as harmful as some say. I get a fabulous gel from my pressure cooked broth. My husband who is very sensitive to glutamate, drinks the broth daily with good results and never has a problem with it. The broth is very flavorful also. I have no plans to give up my pressure cooker!” (Kris is quoted with her permission.)
- There is good evidence that pressure cooking helps food retain nutrients and bioavailability, AND reduces acrylamide, lectins, and phytic acid!
Researchers estimate the nutrients in our foods have declined dramatically (up to 50 percent in some foods) due to the depletion of nutrients in the soil. When you combine that with many cooking methods, which destroy or drain nutrients away from your food, the result is meals that just don’t provide the nutritional value your body needs.
A pressure cooker can greatly reduce the time it takes to cook your food. This directly correlates with the loss of fewer heat-sensitive nutrients. Let’s take a look at the research:
• In Plant Foods for Human Nutrition, researchers found that pressure cooking was the best method for retaining both vitamin C and beta-carotene in spinach and amaranth.
• A study published in The Journal of Food Science found that pressure cooked broccoli retained 90 percent of its vitamin C content. Compare this to boiling (66 percent retention) or steaming (78 percent).
But using a pressure cooker won’t just help boost the levels of nutrients you get from your food… it can also help reduce health harming compounds, as well.
Because a pressure cooker basically uses “steam under pressure”, foods stay moist. They are literally bathed in steam as they cook. This translates to juicier, better tasting food. It also helps eliminate two cancer-causing compounds (acrylamide and heterocyclic amines) which are often produced by other high-heat cooking methods.
And if you’re concerned about lectins and phytic acid – two anti-nutrients which can bind to minerals and make them indigestible – the pressure cooker can help there too.
In fact, another study published in Plant Foods for Human Nutrition showed that when peas were soaked overnight and then boiled, their phytic acid content was reduced by 29 percent. On the other hand, when they were soaked overnight and then pressure cooked, the reduction in this unhealthy anti-nutrient was almost double (54 percent). (Source)
Hopefully that information has made you comfortable using a pressure cooker, and now for which one to buy…
We first ordered a multi-function pressure cooker like the Instant Pot 7-in-1 multi-function pressure cooker, although when I looked into it more, I realized it was actually the GoWise 6-in-1 early model that I had bought for the bigger size — both had many bells and whistles, and both had a stainless steel interior, which was important to me. (No unhealthy aluminum or non-stick finishes!)
But when it came and Kent started reading more reviews and looking at a bunch of pressure cooker recipes, he realized that most are geared toward 15 psi pressure cookers (that's how much pressure they go up to), and none of the electric ones go that high. Since we didn't want to risk ruining our expensive pastured meats trying to figure that out (how to adjust each recipe for the pressure differences), we returned it.
What we got next (but not the one I ended up with):
Click here for this stainless steel 8 quart 15 psi stove-top model we bought next — we've been mostly happy with it and have used it quite a bit to make really delicious meals. Soon I'll post a recipe for a roast Kent made that might just be THE best and most flavorful roast we've ever had!
However, I haven't used it much myself because I'm not patient enough to stand over it as it cooks and follow the directions for what to do when. Kent doesn't mind because he'll just be in the kitchen watching a game or something, but it drives me crazy!
I've realized that I really do need a set-it-and-forget-it model, and as for the psi issue, I'll just get one of these electric pressure cooker recipe books so I'm sure I'm doing it right.
Sooooooo, the Pressure Cooker I ordered after all:
I've decided to go back to an electric model, but not the Instant Pot because it only goes to 6 quart size. I got this one — it's the newer model of the one I had before, and it does everything the Instant Pot does plus it's an 8 quart and it's stainless steel (no non-stick chemicals for us!):
Click here for the 8 quart 8-in-1 multi-function pressure cooker I'm using now and LOVE. (Right now it's 53% off.)
UPDATE: Now the Instant Pot also comes in the 8 quart size!
So if you don't mind paying a little more, you could get that one now. But if you want to save a little, you can get just the one I have that does everything else the Instant Pot does!
Final Suggestions — which one is best for you?
Keep in mind that there are a lot of electric multi-use pressure cookers out there, but most either didn't have all the features I wanted OR they had aluminum or non-stick surfaces on the inside.
- If your family is smaller and a 6 quart is big enough for you, and if the sheer number of awesome reviews is important to you (thousands!), click here to get the Instant Pot 7-in-1 multi-function pressure cooker. (49% off right now.) It's a pressure cooker, slow cooker, rice cooker, sauté/browning, yogurt maker, steamer & warmer. (You can also purchase extra Instant Pot accessories if you'd like.)
- If you really want to geek out and are okay with the 6 quart, click here to check out this Bluetooth Instant Pot. It says you can, “Program and monitor cooking with a free app for Android/iPhone/iPad; Expand functionality by upgrading the free app and adding other recipe apps.“
- But if you need a bigger model, you can get what I ordered, click here for the 8 quart 8-in-1 multi-function pressure cooker. (By the way, this one doesn't have as many reviews, but I think because it's a newer model, and the reviews it does have also show it to be highly rated.) It's a pressure cooker, rice cooker, bean cooker, yogurt maker, food warmer, steamer, sauté, slow cooker, and egg maker. (You can also purchase extras separately: a glass lid if you're using it as a slow cooker and/or an extra stainless steel inner pan.) Remember this one is 53% off right now and I don't know for how long.
- Be sure to click here for one of these electric pressure cooker recipe books so you know how to make everything come out well in the electric pressure cookers due to the lower psi as mentioned above.
- If the higher psi is important to you, if you might want to use it for canning, and if you don't mind a stovetop model, click here for the stainless steel 8 quart stovetop model that we got, and once our new one comes, this will serve as a good back-up for us, since there may be times when we're up against the clock and we want to quick-cook two different things at once. 🙂
There are SO many easy meals you can make in it for FAST dinners!
There are recipes for things like…
- Pasta dishes, without cooking or straining the pasta! Just throw it in with your sauces and it's ready in 10 minutes.
- If you make a dish with cut up chicken, it can cook in 10-20 minutes, depending on the size of your chicken pieces. Just toss it in with the sauce and you're good to go.
- Even big roasts or whole chickens can be cooked in around an hour or less, along with the potatoes and carrots and everything all in there.
- You can make desserts, too, that'll be fun to experiment with!
- I even saw a recipe for making homemade bread in there. I'll have to find out more about that one.
I can't wait to play around with this and see what it'll do!
Do you have any of these pressure cookers?
If so, let us know what you think? What have you made in yours and how did it turn out?
- See my earlier post on Top Rated Pressure Cookers
- More Favorite Kitchen Stuff!
- Want to make meal time even easier? Check out these easy interactive meal plans!