3 Benefits of Cooking With Water Instead of Oil - Water Wisdom - Mayu Water Blog

3 Benefits of Cooking With Water Instead of Oil

Discover the advantages of water-based cooking over oil-based cooking

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By Aimee Shelton
Milica Pešić
Edited by Milica Pešić
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Fact-check by Jovan Mijailović

Updated February 22, 2024.

A bowl of soup with carrots, mushrooms, and parsley.

Although fat has a role in a balanced diet, heating polyunsaturated fats, like seed oils, leads to lipid oxidation, polymerization, and hydrolysis. Cooking with oil, like deep frying, also triggers changes that cause oxidation and reduce nutrition.

The solution? Consider water-based cooking. It may seem mundane, but many cultures create amazing dishes without oil

  • Health Benefits of Water Cooking
  • Techniques for Water Cooking
  • Flavor Enhancement and Creativity
  • Steaming Up Health and Flavor

Health Benefits of Water Cooking

Ready to elevate your health journey? Let's explore the benefits of water cooking, how it compares to traditional oil-based cuisine, and how you can get started.

1. Reduced Calorie Intake

The most obvious benefit of cooking with water is that it significantly reduces the amount of calories in your food compared to oil-based methods. Cooking with oil can lead to higher calorie intake as fats and oils contain 9 calories per gram.

To reduce calorie consumption, try stir-frying vegetables with water. This simple change can save up to 234 calories.

2. Lower Fat Content

You need to eliminate trans fats from your diet if you want to protect your heart health, as there is no safe level of consumption. However, as a study shows, replacing saturated fat with carbohydrates doesn't reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. Cooking with water reduces the "bad" fats common to diets that use cooking oil.

It's also important for keeping your heart hydrated and ensuring adequate water intake. This will help maintain blood volume and regulate blood pressure.

3. Weight Management and Heart Health

Water-based cooking lets you stick within your calorie range for healthy weight loss while still including heart-healthy fats found in foods like salmon, avocado, nuts, and seeds. Rich in omega-3 and -6 fatty acids, these fats help lower your cholesterol, support weight loss, and promote satiety.

Note: Steamed veggies with baked salmon over a quinoa or couscous is one of my favorite no-oil-added meals that's quick, easy, and delicious.

Techniques for Water Cooking

Water-based cooking is versatile, retains nutrients and flavor, and suits low-fat and vegan lifestyles. These techniques cater to a variety of recipes and dietary restrictions without compromising taste.

You can try:

  • Steaming
  • Boiling
  • Poaching


Steaming vegetables and seafood is easy and nutritious. All you need is a pan and a lid to keep the steam in. It preserves flavors and nutrients while creating a crispy texture and vibrant color.


Boiling is commonly used for cooking pasta and grains and is also ideal for soups and stews. The nutrients that seep into the liquid are absorbed into the dish, making it even more nutritious. To ensure that everything cooks perfectly, add root vegetables before above-ground ones.


This method involves gently simmering food submerged in liquid under a lid. It works great for cooking vegetables, fruit, and protein like eggs, fish, chicken, and even filet mignon.

» Discover more about the effects of food and water choices on your overall health

Flavor Enhancement and Creativity

Did you know that it's possible to fry and sauté vegetables without using oil?

Here are the steps for deep frying without oil:

  1. Heat a heavy-bottomed stainless or enamel-coated cast iron skillet over medium heat.
  2. Add your food and a small amount of water or broth (1-2 tbsp).
  3. Stir the food frequently to prevent burning and add additional liquid as necessary to avoid sticking.

Using stocks and broths is a great way to enhance flavor without adding oil. Cooking collard greens in chicken or vegetable stock can elevate the taste to new heights. Including herbs, spices, and aromatic vegetables in your poaching liquid can add depth and complexity to the simplest dishes.

Steaming Up Health and Flavor

Cooking with pure water is a great way to reduce calories, lower fat content, and support healthy weight management. Water-cooked food retains nutrients and has enhanced texture with limitless flavor possibilities.

Nearly any recipe can be adapted and improved by using one of these techniques. It's one small change that can have a significant impact on your journey to a healthier lifestyle. Are you ready to give it a try?