We know that many foods are beneficial in their raw state. Raw food diets have really taken off, but what about vegetables that have been cooked? Many wonder if they begin to lose some of their nutrients and if they’re a less healthy option.
Although some vitamins begin to decrease when heated, cooking can bring other benefits. So what’s the difference? How do they compare? Which vegetables are healthiest raw, and which vegetables are healthiest cooked?
Raw Vegetables vs Cooked Vegetables, Who Wins?
There is no winner here. Although we have heard a lot about the importance of a raw food diet, that does not mean that cooking vegetables is not beneficial. With anything, you need to find the right balance and be more aware of what you’re consuming.
Yes, it is true that heat does break down some vitamins and enzymes that are essential for our health. However, cooking can also positively affect the way our body absorbs some nutrients. For example, when a tomato is cooked, the vitamin C begins to decline. Although vitamin C declines, a potent antioxidant known as ‘lycopene’ increases. This is due to the breakdown of tough cell walls, allowing the body’s uptake of nutrients.
This vitamin C decrease is most currently a downside. However, cooked vegetables do not lose all of their vitamin C content. You can also obtain vitamin C a lot easier than lycopene for instance. Other heat sensitive nutrients include potassium, folate, and thiamine.
It’s tough to choose which is healthier, as it’s complicated and both methods yield positive benefits. There is still a lot to learn, as research continues to unlock vital pieces of information. As long as you’re consuming vegetables, you’re providing your body with nutrients and benefiting the systems within.
Basically, raw vegetables can yield higher levels of vitamins and minerals. Cooked vegetables on the hand, allow your body to absorb more nutrients and minerals. Therefore, you should be finding a balance between the two. Eat a mixture of both raw and cooked vegetables, being conscious of the lists below.
Which Vegetables Should be Eaten Raw and Which Should be Cooked?
Although some vegetables are healthier eaten raw or vice versa, try to find a balance. As long as you’re consuming a lot of vegetables, you’ll be gaining the nutrients that you need.
There are most certainly a ton of benefits from consuming raw vegetables. The following vegetables are healthier when eaten raw.
1. Broccoli: Once heated, an enzyme in broccoli is damaged. This damage reduces the anti-cancer compounds known as glucosinolates. When broccoli is cooked, you only consume approximately a third of these anti-cancer compounds.
2. Garlic: This herb is so beneficial, but is unfortunately less potent when cooked. Heat reduces the amount of allicin. This compound prevents a number of ailments including cancer, heart attacks, and stroke. This is due to its immune boosting properties.
3. Onion: When you cook onions down at high heat, phytochemicals are reduced. These compounds are known to protect against prostate and lung cancer.
COOKED WITH CARE
Just as some vegetables are more beneficial raw, the same is true for cooked. Although the following are also extremely healthy when eaten raw, these vegetables provide higher benefits when cooked.
1. Carrots: When cooked, levels of beta-carotene increase. This antioxidant is beneficial in fighting multiple forms of cancer, protects against heart disease, and improves eye health.
2. Spinach: This leafy green is packed with vitamins and minerals. Although we consume high levels of vitamin C and riboflavin in its raw state, cooking spinach allows you to absorb more vitamins and minerals. These include protein, thiamine, iron, vitamin A, vitamin E, beta-carotene, and lutein. Since spinach wilts when cooked, you also consume more per bite.
3. Tomatoes: As mentioned above, tomatoes pack a nutritional punch when cooked. Lycopene is an antioxidant that helps protect us against various cancers (breast, cervix, prostate, lung, and cervix), as well as heart disease. When you cook tomatoes, this antioxidant increases by 35%.
It’s important to get involved in what you’re eating. Take an interest in the ways that you can maximize your health. Make sure you’re eating a wide variety of vegetables – both raw and cooked.