Cooking, cookery, or culinary arts is the art, science, and craft of using
heat In thermodynamics Thermodynamics is a branch of physics that deals with heat, Work (thermodynamics), work, and temperature, and their relation to energy, entropy, and the physical properties of matter and radiation. The behavior of these ...

to prepare food for consumption. Cooking techniques and ingredients vary widely, from grilling food over an open
fire BBQ. Fire is the rapid oxidation of a material in the exothermic chemical process of combustion, releasing heat, light, and various reaction Product (chemistry), products. Fire is hot because the conversion of the weak double bond in molecula ...

to using
electric stove An electric stove or electric range is a stove 200px, 18th-century Neoclassical cocklestove in the Palais Rohan ( Strasbourg, France) A stove is a device that burns fuel or uses electricity to generate heat inside or on top of the apparatu ...

electric stove
s, to
baking Baking is a method of preparing food that uses dry heat, typically in an oven upA double oven A ceramic oven An oven is a tool A tool is an object that can extend an individual's ability to modify features of the surrounding environmen ...

in various types of
oven upA double oven A ceramic oven An oven is a tool A tool is an object that can extend an individual's ability to modify features of the surrounding environment. Although many animals use simple tools, only human beings, whose use of stone ...

s, reflecting local conditions. Types of cooking also depend on the skill levels and training of the cooks. Cooking is done both by people in their own dwellings and by professional cooks and
chef A chef is a trained professional Cook (profession), cook and tradesman who is proficient in all aspects of outline of food preparation, food preparation, often focusing on a particular cuisine. The word "chef" is derived from the term ''chef ...

s in
restaurant A restaurant is a business that prepares and serves food and drinks to customers. Meals are generally served and eaten on the premises, but many restaurants also offer take-out and Delivery (commerce), food delivery services. Restaurants vary g ...

s and other food establishments. Preparing food with heat or fire is an activity unique to
human Humans (''Homo sapiens'') are the most abundant and widespread species In biology Biology is the natural science that studies life and living organisms, including their anatomy, physical structure, Biochemistry, chemical processes ...

s. It may have started around 2 million years ago, though archaeological evidence for the same does not predate more than 1 million years. The expansion of
agriculture Agriculture is the science, art and practice of cultivating plants and livestock. Agriculture was the key development in the rise of , whereby farming of species created food that enabled people to live in cities. The began thousands of ...

commerce Commerce is the exchange of goods and services Goods are items that are usually (but not always) tangible, such as pens, salt, apples, and hats. Services are activities provided by other people, who include doctors, lawn care workers, denti ...

trade Trade involves the transfer of goods from one person or entity to another, often in exchange for money. Economists refer to a system A system is a group of Interaction, interacting or interrelated elements that act according to a set of r ...

, and
transport Transport (in British English British English (BrE) is the standard dialect of the English language English is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language first spoken in History of Anglo-Saxon England, early medieval Engl ...

ation between
civilization  A civilization (or civilisation) is a that is characterized by , , a form of government, and systems of communication (such as ). Civilizations are intimately associated with additional characteristics such as , the of plant and ani ...

s in different regions offered cooks many new ingredients. New inventions and technologies, such as the invention of
pottery Pottery is the process and the products of forming vessels and other objects with and other materials, which are fired at high temperatures to give them a hard, durable form. Major types include , and . The place where such wares are mad ...

for holding and
boiling Boiling is the rapid vaporization Vaporization (or vaporisation) of an element or compound is a phase transition In chemistry Chemistry is the scientific discipline involved with Chemical element, elements and chemical compound, compounds ...
water Water (chemical formula H2O) is an , transparent, tasteless, odorless, and , which is the main constituent of 's and the s of all known living organisms (in which it acts as a ). It is vital for all known forms of , even though it provide ...

, expanded cooking techniques. Some modern cooks apply advanced scientific techniques to food preparation to further enhance the
flavor Flavor, or flavour, is the perceptual Perception (from the Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area arou ...

of the dish served.


Phylogenetic analysis In biology Biology is the natural science that studies life and living organisms, including their anatomy, physical structure, Biochemistry, chemical processes, Molecular biology, molecular interactions, Physiology, physiological mechanisms, ...

Phylogenetic analysis
suggests that
human ancestors Human evolution is the evolutionary process that led to the emergence of anatomically modern humans, beginning with the Primate evolution, evolutionary history of primates—in particular genus ''Homo''—and leading to the emergence of ''Homo sap ...
may have invented cooking as far back as 1.8 million to 2.3 million years ago. Re-analysis of burnt bone fragments and plant ashes from the
Wonderwerk Cave Wonderwerk Cave is an archaeological site, formed originally as an ancient solution cavity in dolomite rocks of the Kuruman Hills, situated between Danielskuil and Kuruman in the Northern Cape Province, South Africa. It is a National Heritage ...
in South Africa has provided evidence supporting
control of fire by early humans The control of fire by early humans was a turning point in the technological Technology ("science of craft", from Ancient Greek, Greek , ''techne'', "art, skill, cunning of hand"; and , ''wikt:-logia, -logia'') is the sum of Art techniques ...
by 1 million years ago. There is evidence that ''
Homo erectus ''Homo erectus'' (meaning "upright Body relative directions (also known as egocentric coordinates) are geometrical orientations relative to a body such as a human Humans (''Homo sapiens'') are the most populous and widespread spec ...

Homo erectus
'' were cooking their food as early as 500,000 years ago. Evidence for the controlled use of fire by ''Homo erectus'' beginning some 400,000 years ago has wide scholarly support. Archaeological evidence from 300,000 years ago, in the form of ancient hearths,
earth oven An earth oven, ground oven or cooking pit is one of the simplest and most ancient cooking structures. At its most basic, an earth oven is a pit in the ground used to trap heat and bake, smoke, or steam food. Earth ovens have been used in many pl ...
s, burnt animal bones, and
flint Flint is a sedimentary Sedimentary rocks are types of rock that are formed by the accumulation or deposition of mineral or organic particles at the Earth's surface, followed by cementation. Sedimentation Sedimentation is the tendency f ...

, are found across Europe and the Middle East.
AnthropologistAn anthropologist is a person engaged in the practice of anthropology. Anthropology is the study of aspects of humans within past and present Society, societies. Social anthropology, cultural anthropology and philosophical anthropology study the norm ...

s think that widespread cooking fires began about 250,000 years ago when
hearth A hearth is the place in a where a is or was traditionally kept for home heating and for , usually constituted by at least a horizontal hearthstone and often enclosed to varying degrees by any combination of , , , smoke hood, or . Hearths a ...

s first appeared. Recently, the earliest hearths have been reported to be at least 790,000 years old. Communication between the
Old World The Old World consists of Africa Africa is the world's second-largest and second-most populous , after in both cases. At about 30.3 million km2 (11.7 million square miles) including adjacent islands, it covers 6% of 's total su ...
and the
New World The "New World" is a term for the majority of Earth Earth is the third planet from the Sun and the only astronomical object known to harbour and support life. 29.2% of Earth's surface is land consisting of continents and islands. The rem ...
in the
Columbian Exchange#REDIRECT Columbian exchange native plants. Clockwise, from top left: 1. Citrus (Rutaceae); 2. Apple An apple is an edible fruit produced by an apple tree (''Malus domestica''). Apple fruit tree, trees are agriculture, cultivated worldwid ...
influenced the history of cooking. The movement of foods across the Atlantic from the New World, such as
potato The potato is a starch Starch or amylum is a polymeric A polymer (; Greek '' poly-'', "many" + '' -mer'', "part") is a substance Substance may refer to: * Substance (Jainism), a term in Jain ontology to denote the base or owner of attr ...

tomato The tomato is the edible berry A berry is a small, pulpy, and often edible fruit In botany, a fruit is the seed-bearing structure in flowering plants (also known as angiosperms) formed from the ovary after flowering. Fruits are ...

maize Maize ( ; ''Zea mays'' subsp. ''mays'', from es, maíz after tnq, mahiz), also known as corn (North American North America is a continent in the Northern Hemisphere and almost entirely within the Western Hemisphere. It can also be ...

bean A bean is the seed of one of several genera Genus (plural genera) is a taxonomic rank Taxonomy (general) is the practice and science of classification of things or concepts, including the principles that underlie such classification. T ...

bell pepper The bell pepper (also known as sweet pepper, pepper, or capsicum ) is the fruit of plants in the Grossum cultivar group of the species ''Capsicum annuum''. Cultivars of the plant produce fruits in different colors, including red, yellow, orange, ...

bell pepper
chili pepper The chili pepper (also chile, chile pepper, chilli pepper, or chilli), from ' (), is the of plants from the ' which are members of the family, . Chili peppers are widely used in many cuisines as a to add to dishes. and related compound ...

chili pepper
vanilla Vanilla is a spice derived from orchids of the genus ''Vanilla (genus), Vanilla'', primarily obtained from pods of the Mexican species, flat-leaved vanilla (''Vanilla planifolia, V. planifolia''). The word ''vanilla'', derived from , the ...

pumpkin A pumpkin is a cultivar A cultivar is a type of plant that people have bred for desired traits, which are reproduced in each new generation by a method such as grafting, tissue culture or carefully controlled seed production. Most culti ...

cassava ''Manihot esculenta'', commonly called cassava (), manioc, or yuca (among numerous regional names) is a woody shrub A shrub (or bush, but this is more of a gardening term) is a small- to medium-sized perennial woody plant. Unlike herb ...

avocado The avocado (''Persea americana''), a tree likely originating from southcentral Mexico, is Biological classification, classified as a member of the flowering plant family Lauraceae. The fruit of the plant, also called an avocado (or avocado pea ...

peanut The peanut, also known as the groundnut, goober (US), pindar (US) or monkey nut (UK), and as ''Arachis hypogaea'', is a grown mainly for its edible . It is widely grown in the and subtropics, being important to both small and large comme ...

pecan The pecan (''Carya illinoinensis'') is a species of hickory native to northern Mexico and the southern United States in the region of the Mississippi River The Mississippi River is the List of longest rivers of the United States (by main s ...

cashew The cashew tree (''Anacardium occidentale'') is a tropical evergreen tree that produces the cashew seed and the cashew apple pseudofruit. The tree can grow as high as , but the dwarf cultivars, growing up to , prove more profitable, with earlier ...

pineapple The pineapple (''Ananas comosus'') is a tropical plant with an edible fruit and is the most economically significant plant in the family Bromeliaceae. The pineapple is indigenous to South America, where it has been cultivated for many centurie ...

blueberry Blueberries are perennial A perennial plant or simply perennial is a plant that lives more than two years. The term ('' per-'' + '' -ennial'', "through the years") is often used to differentiate a plant from shorter-lived annuals and b ...

sunflower ''Helianthus'' () is a genus Genus /ˈdʒiː.nəs/ (plural genera /ˈdʒen.ər.ə/) is a taxonomic rank used in the biological classification of extant taxon, living and fossil organisms as well as Virus classification#ICTV classification, vi ...

chocolate Chocolate is a food product made from roasted and ground Theobroma cacao, cacao pods, that is available as a liquid, solid or paste, on its own or as a flavoring agent in other foods. Cacao has been consumed in some form since at least the Ol ...

gourd Gourds include the fruits of some flowering plant The flowering plants, also known as Angiospermae (), or Magnoliophyta (), are the most diverse group of Embryophyte, land plants, with 64 Order(biology), orders, 416 Family (biology), families, ...

s, and
squash Squash may refer to: Sports * Squash (sport), the high-speed racquet sport also known as squash racquets * Squash (professional wrestling), an extremely one-sided match in professional wrestling * Squash tennis, a game similar to squash racquets ...

, had a profound effect on Old World cooking. The movement of foods across the Atlantic from the Old World, such as
cattle Cattle, taurine cattle, Eurasian cattle, or European cattle (''Bos taurus'' or ''Bos primigenius taurus'') are large s. They are a prominent modern member of the subfamily and the most widespread species of the genus '. In , adult females a ...

sheep Sheep (''Ovis aries'') are quadruped The zebra is a quadruped. Quadrupedalism is a form of terrestrial locomotion where a tetrapod Tetrapods (; from Greek 'four' and 'foot') are four-limbed animals constituting the superclass Tetrapo ...

pig The pig (''Sus domesticus''), often called swine, hog, or domestic pig when distinguishing from other members of the genus '' Sus'', is an omnivorous An omnivore () is an animal that has the ability to eat and survive on both plant and ani ...

wheat Wheat is a grass widely cultivated for its seed, a cereal grain which is a worldwide staple food. The many species of wheat together make up the genus ''Triticum''; the most widely grown is common wheat (''T. aestivum''). The archaeological r ...

oat The oat (''Avena sativa''), sometimes called the common oat, is a of grown for its seed, which is known by the same name (usually in the plural, unlike other cereals and ). While oats are suitable for human consumption as and , one of the m ...
barley Barley (''Hordeum vulgare''), a member of the grass family Poaceae () or Gramineae () is a large and nearly ubiquitous family In human society, family (from la, familia) is a group of people related either by consanguinity (by recogn ...

rice Rice is the seed of the Poaceae, grass species ''Oryza sativa'' (Asian rice) or less commonly ''Oryza glaberrima'' (African rice). The name wild rice is usually used for species of the genera ''Zizania (genus), Zizania'' and ''Porteresia'', bo ...

apple An apple is an edible fruit produced by an apple tree (''Malus domestica''). Apple fruit tree, trees are agriculture, cultivated worldwide and are the most widely grown species in the genus ''Malus''. The tree originated in Central Asia, wher ...

pear Pears are fruits produced and consumed around the world, growing on a tree and harvested in the Northern Hemisphere in late summer into October. The pear tree and shrub are a species In biology, a species is the basic unit of biological ...

pea The pea is most commonly the small spherical seed A seed is an embryonic plant enclosed in a protective outer covering. The formation of the seed is part of the process of reproduction Reproduction (or procreation or breeding) is ...

chickpea The chickpea or chick pea (''Cicer arietinum'') is an annual Annual may refer to: *Annual publication, periodical publications appearing regularly once per year **Yearbook **Literary annual *Annual plant *Annual report *Annual giving *Annual, Mo ...

green bean Green beans are the unripe, young fruit of various cultivar '' 'Pink Whirls' A cultivar selected for its intriguing and colourful flowers A cultivar is a type of plant that people have bred for desired traits, which are reproduced in each new ...
mustard Mustard may refer to: Food and plants * Mustard (condiment) Mustard is a condiment made from the seeds A seed is an Plant embryogenesis, embryonic plant enclosed in a testa (botany), protective outer covering. The formation of the seed is ...

, and
carrot The carrot (''Daucus carota ''Daucus carota'', whose common names include wild carrot, bird's nest, bishop's lace, and Queen Anne's lace (North America), is a white, flowering plant The flowering plants, also known as Angiospermae () ...

s, similarly changed New World cooking. In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, food was a classic marker of identity in Europe. In the nineteenth-century "Age of Nationalism" cuisine became a defining symbol of national identity. The Industrial Revolution brought mass-production, mass-marketing, and standardization of food. Factories processed, preserved, canned, and packaged a wide variety of foods, and processed cereals quickly became a defining feature of the American breakfast. In the 1920s, frozen food, freezing methods, cafeterias, and fast food restaurants emerged.


Most ingredients in cooking are derived from organism, living organisms. Vegetables, fruits, grains and nuts as well as herbs and spices come from plants, while meat, eggs, and dairy products come from animals. Mushrooms and the yeast used in baking are kinds of Fungus, fungi. Cooks also use
water Water (chemical formula H2O) is an , transparent, tasteless, odorless, and , which is the main constituent of 's and the s of all known living organisms (in which it acts as a ). It is vital for all known forms of , even though it provide ...

and minerals such as salt. Cooks can also use wine or Distilled beverage, spirits. Naturally occurring ingredients contain various amounts of molecules called ''Protein (nutrient), proteins'', ''carbohydrates'' and ''fats''. They also contain water and minerals. Cooking involves a manipulation of the chemical properties of these molecules.


Carbohydrates include the common sugar, sucrose (table sugar), a disaccharide, and such simple sugars as glucose (made by enzymatic splitting of sucrose) and fructose (from fruit), and starches from sources such as cereal flour, rice, arrowroot and potato. The interaction of heat and carbohydrate is complex. Polysaccharide, Long-chain sugars such as starch tend to break down into more digestible Monosaccharide, simpler sugars. If the sugars are heated so that all water of crystallisation is driven off, caramelization starts, with the sugar undergoing thermal decomposition with the formation of carbon, and other breakdown products producing caramel. Similarly, the heating of sugars and proteins causes the Maillard reaction, a basic flavor-enhancing technique. An emulsion of starch with fat or water can, when gently heated, provide thickening to the dish being cooked. In European cuisine, European cooking, a mixture of butter and flour called a roux is used to thicken liquids to make stews or sauces. In Asian cooking, a similar effect is obtained from a mixture of rice or corn starch and water. These techniques rely on the properties of starches to create simpler mucilaginous saccharides during cooking, which causes the familiar thickening of sauces. This thickening will break down, however, under additional heat.


Types of fat include vegetable oils, animal products such as butter and lard, as well as fats from grains, including
maize Maize ( ; ''Zea mays'' subsp. ''mays'', from es, maíz after tnq, mahiz), also known as corn (North American North America is a continent in the Northern Hemisphere and almost entirely within the Western Hemisphere. It can also be ...

and flax oils. Fats are used in a number of ways in cooking and baking. To prepare stir fry, stir fries, grilled cheese or pancakes, the pan or griddle is often coated with fat or oil. Fats are also used as an ingredient in baked goods such as cookies, cakes and pies. Fats can reach temperatures higher than the boiling point of water, and are often used to conduct high heat to other ingredients, such as in frying, deep frying or sautéing. Fats are used to add flavor to food (e.g., butter or bacon fat), prevent food from sticking to pans and create a desirable texture.


Edible animal material, including muscle, offal, milk, egg (food), eggs and egg whites, contains substantial amounts of protein. Almost all vegetable matter (in particular legumes and seeds) also includes proteins, although generally in smaller amounts. Mushrooms have high protein content. Any of these may be sources of essential amino acids. When proteins are heated they become Denaturation (biochemistry), denatured (unfolded) and change texture. In many cases, this causes the structure of the material to become softer or more friable – meat becomes ''cooked'' and is more friable and less flexible. In some cases, proteins can form more rigid structures, such as the coagulation of albumen in egg whites. The formation of a relatively rigid but flexible matrix from egg white provides an important component in baking cakes, and also underpins many desserts based on meringue.


Cooking often involves water and water-based liquids. These can be added in order to immerse the substances being cooked (this is typically done with water, stock (food), stock or wine). Alternatively, the foods themselves can release water. A favorite method of adding flavor to dishes is to save the liquid for use in other recipes. Liquids are so important to cooking that the name of the cooking method used is often based on how the liquid is combined with the food, as in steaming, simmering,
boiling Boiling is the rapid vaporization Vaporization (or vaporisation) of an element or compound is a phase transition In chemistry Chemistry is the scientific discipline involved with Chemical element, elements and chemical compound, compounds ...
, braising and blanching (cooking), blanching. Heating liquid in an open container results in rapidly increased evaporation, which concentrates the remaining
flavor Flavor, or flavour, is the perceptual Perception (from the Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area arou ...

and ingredients – this is a critical component of both stewing and sauce making.

Vitamins and minerals

Vitamins and minerals are required for normal metabolism but which the body cannot manufacture itself and which must therefore come from external sources. Vitamins come from several sources including fresh fruit and vegetables (Vitamin C), carrots, liver (food), liver (Vitamin A), cereal bran, bread, liver (B vitamins), fish liver oil (Vitamin D) and fresh green vegetables (Vitamin K). Many minerals are also essential in small quantities including iron, calcium, magnesium, sodium chloride and sulfur; and in very small quantities copper, zinc and selenium. The micronutrients, minerals, and vitamins in fruit and vegetables may be destroyed or eluted by cooking. Vitamin C is especially prone to oxidation during cooking and may be completely destroyed by protracted cooking. The bioavailability of some vitamins such as thiamin, vitamin B6, niacin, folate, and carotenoids are increased with cooking by being freed from the food microstructure. Blanching or steaming vegetables is a way of minimizing vitamin and mineral loss in cooking.


There are very many methods of cooking, most of which have been known since antiquity. These include baking, roasting, frying, grilling, barbecuing, smoking, boiling, steaming and braising. A more recent innovation is microwaving. Various methods use differing levels of heat and moisture and vary in cooking time. The method chosen greatly affects the end result because some foods are more appropriate to some methods than others. Some major hot cooking techniques include: ;Roasting :Roasting – Barbecuing – Grilling/Broiling – Rotisserie – Searing ;Baking :Baking – Blind Baking, Baking Blind – Flashbaking ;Boiling :Boiling in cooking, Boiling – Blanching (cooking), Blanching – Braising – Coddling – Double steaming – Infusion – Poaching (cooking), Poaching – Pressure cooking – Simmering – Smothering (food), Smothering – Steaming – Steeping – Stewing – Stone boiling – Vacuum flask cooking ;Frying :Frying, Fry – Air fryer, Air frying — Deep frying – Gentle frying - Hot salt frying – Hot sand frying – Pan frying – Pressure frying – Sautéing – Shallow frying – Stir frying — Vacuum fryer, Vacuum frying ;Steaming :Steaming works by boiling water continuously, causing it to vaporise into steam; the steam then carries heat to the nearby food, thus cooking the food. By many it is considered a healthy form of cooking, holding nutrients within the vegetable or meat being cooked. : En papillote – The food is put into a pouch and then baked, allowing its own moisture to steam the food. ;Smoking :Smoking (cooking), Smoking is the process of flavoring, cooking, or preserving food by exposing it to smoke from burning or smoldering material, most often wood.

Health and safety

Security while cooking

A lot of hazards may happen while cooking such as * Unseen slippery surfaces (such as from oil stains or water droplets) * Cuts (1 percent of injuries in United States related to knives, ended in hospital admissions. In overall 400 000 injuries from knives are recorded in the US * Burns To prevent those injuries there are protections such as cooking clothing, anti-slip shoes and more.

Food safety

Cooking can prevent many foodborne illnesses that would otherwise occur if the food is eaten raw. When heat is used in the preparation of food, it can kill or inactivate harmful organisms, such as bacteria and viruses, as well as various parasites such as tapeworms and ''Toxoplasma gondii''. Food poisoning and other illness from uncooked or poorly prepared food may be caused by bacteria such as Escherichia coli O157:H7, pathogenic strains of ''Escherichia coli'', ''Salmonella typhimurium'' and ''Campylobacter'', viruses such as noroviruses, and protozoa such as ''Entamoeba histolytica''. Bacteria, viruses and parasites may be introduced through salad, meat that is uncooked or done Doneness, rare, and unboiled water. The Sterilization (microbiology), sterilizing effect of cooking depends on temperature, cooking time, and technique used. Some food spoilage bacteria such as ''Clostridium botulinum'' or ''Bacillus cereus'' can form spores that survive boiling, which then germinate and regrow after the food has cooled. This makes it unsafe to reheat cooked food more than once. Cooking increases the digestibility of many foods which are inedible or poisonous when raw. For example, raw cereal grains are hard to digest, while kidney beans are toxic when raw or improperly cooked due to the presence of phytohaemagglutinin, which is inactivated by cooking for at least ten minutes at . Food safety depends on the safe preparation, handling, and storage of food. Food spoilage bacteria proliferate in the "Danger zone (food safety), Danger zone" temperature range from , food therefore should not be stored in this temperature range. Hand washing, Washing of hands and surfaces, especially when handling different meats, and keeping raw food separate from cooked food to avoid cross-contamination, are good practices in food preparation. Foods prepared on plastic cutting boards may be less likely to harbor bacteria than wooden ones. Washing and Disinfection, disinfecting cutting boards, especially after use with raw meat, poultry, or seafood, reduces the risk of contamination.

Effects on nutritional content of food

Proponents of raw foodism argue that cooking food increases the risk of some of the detrimental effects on food or health. They point out that during cooking of vegetables and fruit containing vitamin C, the vitamin elutes into the cooking water and becomes degraded through oxidation. Peeling vegetables can also substantially reduce the vitamin C content, especially in the case of potatoes where most vitamin C is in the skin. However, research has shown that in the specific case of carotenoids a greater proportion is absorbed from cooked vegetables than from raw vegetables. German research in 2003 showed significant benefits in reducing breast cancer risk when large amounts of raw vegetable matter are included in the diet. The authors attribute some of this effect to heat-labile phytonutrients. Sulforaphane, a glucosinolate breakdown product, which may be found in vegetables such as broccoli, has been shown to be protective against prostate cancer, however, much of it is destroyed when the vegetable is boiled. The USDA has studied retention data for 16 vitamins, 8 minerals, and alcohol for approximately 290 foods for various cooking methods.


In a human epidemiological analysis by Richard Doll and Richard Peto in 1981, diet was estimated to cause a large percentage of cancers. Studies suggest that around 32% of cancer deaths may be avoidable by changes to the diet. Some of these cancers may be caused by carcinogens in food generated during the cooking process, although it is often difficult to identify the specific components in diet that serve to increase cancer risk. Many foods, such as beefsteak and broccoli, contain low concentrations of both carcinogens and anticarcinogens. Several studies published since 1990 indicate that cooking meat at high temperature creates heterocyclic amines (HCAs), which are thought to increase cancer risk in humans. Researchers at the National Cancer Institute found that human subjects who ate beef rare or medium-rare had less than one third the risk of stomach cancer than those who ate beef medium-well or well-done. While avoiding meat or eating meat raw may be the only ways to avoid HCAs in meat fully, the National Cancer Institute states that cooking meat below creates "negligible amounts" of HCAs. Also, microwaving meat before cooking may reduce HCAs by 90% by reducing the time needed for the meat to be cooked at high heat. Nitrosamines are found in some food, and may be produced by some cooking processes from proteins or from nitrites used as food preservatives; cured meat such as bacon has been found to be carcinogenic, with links to colon cancer. Vitamin C, Ascorbate, which is added to cured meat, however, reduces nitrosamine formation. Research has shown that grilling, barbecuing and smoking meat and fish increases levels of carcinogenic polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH). In Europe, grilled meat and smoked fish generally only contribute a small proportion of dietary PAH intake since they are a minor component of diet – most intake comes from cereals, oils and fats. However, in the US, grilled/barbecued meat is the second highest contributor of the mean daily intake of a known PAH carcinogen benzo(a)pyrene, benzo[a]pyrene at 21% after 'bread, cereal and grain' at 29%. Baking, grilling or broiling food, especially starchy foods, until a toasted crust is formed generates significant concentrations of acrylamide, a known carcinogen from animal studies; its potential to cause cancer in humans at normal exposures is uncertain. Public health authorities recommend reducing the risk by avoiding overly browning starchy foods or meats when frying, baking, toasting or roasting them.

Other health issues

Cooking dairy products may reduce a protective effect against colon cancer. Researchers at the University of Toronto suggest that ingesting uncooked or unpasteurized dairy products (see also Raw milk) may reduce the risk of colorectal cancer. Mice and rats fed uncooked sucrose, casein, and beef tallow had one-third to one-fifth the incidence of adenoma, microadenomas as the mice and rats fed the same ingredients cooked. This claim, however, is contentious. According to the Food and Drug Administration (United States), Food and Drug Administration of the United States, health benefits claimed by raw milk advocates do not exist. "The small quantities of antibodies in milk are not absorbed in the human intestinal tract," says Barbara Ingham, PhD, associate professor and extension food scientist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. "There is no scientific evidence that raw milk contains an anti-arthritis factor or that it enhances resistance to other diseases." Heating sugars with proteins or fats can produce advanced glycation end products ("glycotoxins"). Deep fried food in restaurants may contain high level of trans fat, which is known to increase levels of low-density lipoprotein that in turn may increase risk of Coronary disease, heart diseases and other conditions. However, many fast food chains have now switched to trans-fat-free alternatives for deep-frying.

Scientific aspects

The scientific study of cooking has become known as molecular gastronomy. This is a subdiscipline of food science concerning the physical and chemical transformations that occur during cooking. Important contributions have been made by scientists, chefs and authors such as Hervé This (chemist), Nicholas Kurti (physicist), Peter Barham (physicist), Harold McGee (author), Shirley Corriher (biochemist, author), Robert Wolke (chemist, author. It is different for the application of scientific knowledge to cooking, that is "molecular cooking"( (for the technique) or "molecular cuisine" (for a culinary style), for which chefs such as Raymond Blanc, Philippe and Christian Conticini, Ferran Adria, Heston Blumenthal, Pierre Gagnaire (chef). Chemical processes central to cooking include hydrolysis (in particular beta elimination of pectins, during the thermal treatment of plant tissues), pyrolysis, glycation reactions wrongly named Maillard reactions . Cooking foods with heat depends on many factors — the specific heat of an object, thermal conductivity, and perhaps most significantly the difference in temperature between the two objects. Thermal diffusivity is the combination of specific heat, conductivity and density that determines how long it will take for the food to reach a certain temperature.

Home-cooking and commercial cooking

Home cooking has traditionally been a process carried out informally in a home or around a Communal oven, communal fire, and can be enjoyed by all members of the family, although in many cultures women bear primary responsibility. Cooking is also often carried out outside of personal quarters, for example at restaurants, or schools. Bakery, Bakeries were one of the earliest forms of cooking outside the home, and bakeries in the past often offered the cooking of pots of food provided by their customers as an additional service. In the present day, factory food preparation has become common, with many "ready-to-eat" foods being prepared and cooked in factories and home cooks using a mixture of wikt:from scratch, scratch made, and factory made foods together to make a meal. The nutritional value of including more commercially prepared foods has been found to be inferior to home-made foods. Home-cooked meals tend to be healthier with fewer calories, and less saturated fat, Cholesterol embolism, cholesterol and sodium on a per calorie basis while providing more Dietary fiber, fiber, calcium, and iron. The ingredients are also directly sourced, so there is control over authenticity, taste, and nutritional value. The superior nutritional quality of home-cooking could therefore play a role in preventing Chronic condition, chronic disease. Cohort studies following the elderly over 10 years show that adults who cook their own meals have significantly lower mortality, even when controlling for confounding variables. "Home-cooking" may be associated with comfort food, and some commercially produced foods and restaurant meals are presented through advertising or packaging as having been "home-cooked", regardless of their actual origin. This trend began in the 1920s and is attributed to people in urban areas of the U.S. wanting homestyle food even though their schedules and smaller kitchens made cooking harder.

See also

* Carryover cooking * Control of fire by early humans * Cookbook * Cooker * Cooking weights and measures * Cuisine * Culinary arts * Culinary profession * Cooking school * Dishwashing * Food and cooking hygiene * Food industry * Food preservation * Food writing * Foodpairing * Gourmet Museum and Library * High altitude cooking * International food terms * List of cooking appliances * List of cooking techniques * List of cuisines * List of films about cooking * List of food preparation utensils * List of ovens * List of stoves * Nutrition * Recipe * Scented water * Spices * Staple (cooking)


External links

*wikiHow:Cook, How to Cook (wikihow)
Open Cookbook (wikicook)Human Timeline (Interactive)
– Smithsonian Institution, Smithsonian, National Museum of Natural History (August 2016). *
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