You probably have heard a lot about eating raw veggies and how healthy they are. While it’s true some raw vegetables provide more nutrients than cooked ones do for some nutrients, cooking enhances other nutrient content. Cooking may destroy natural enzymes, but it’s also easier to digest. Some vegetables simply don’t taste good raw, either. It all depends on the vegetable and how you cook it.
Raw vegetables contain more nutrients, but do you absorb them all?
No matter how much of any vitamin you consume, if your body isn’t absorbing it, you’re not getting the benefit. One study followed three groups of women. The first group ate the average American diet. The second group ate a diet based on dietary recommendations with both cooked and raw vegetables and the third group followed a raw food diet. While the group that ate the raw food diet consumed more nutrients, some of those nutrients, such as beta-carotene, the group that ate the diet that was both cooked and raw absorbed more of the nutrient. Cooking can destroy some of the nutrient, but it may also make that nutrient more bioavailable.
When you cook tomatoes, you increase the lycopene content.
Lutein is another antioxidant that increases in cooked vegetables. In addition, when you cook vegetables, it can release certain minerals and make them more available. Heating spinach to release calcium is just one example. Cooked vegetables increase not only digestibility, but also helps you chew more thoroughly and boosts the net energy value of food.
Some vegetables simply taste better cooked.
Sweet corn, potatoes or eggplant are also foods you shouldn’t eat raw for flavor or digestibility. Potatoes, whether white or sweet, simply taste better when eaten cooked. Raw potatoes contain lectins and starches that hard to digest and can irritation. Asparagus is also best when cooked and tough to chew when raw. Carrots are actually healthier when they’re heated. The heat helps release nutrients. Don’t even consider eggplant, it’s bitter and tastes awful if it’s not cooked.
- If you don’t like raw vegetables, the healthiest way for you to eat a vegetable is the way you’ll actually eat them. Cook them if you like or eat them raw, but add more veggies to your diet.
- While tomatoes lose much of their vitamin C during cooking, cooking boosts the amount of lycopene. Include them in your diet both cooked and raw.
- While crucifers like broccoli, kale and Brussel’s sprouts taste good both cooked and raw, the raw version can create gas or upset your stomach. Introduce the raw version slowly into your diet.
- Find ways to increase your intake of veggies. Perk up a salad by adding roasted vegetables you normally wouldn’t include. Add vegetables to your scrambled eggs or have a stir-fry night.
For more information, contact us today at Habitat Health & Fitness