Blog by-AMBER MEDINA VASQUEZ
We hear all sorts of opinions on how to prepare our foods, veggies especially. A big question that comes up when preparing vegetables is “Is it better to eat them raw or can I cook them and still get all the good benefits?” Well, here’s a little run down of what the difference really looks like.
Benefits of Cooked Vegetables
Cooking vegetables can make the cell walls less rigid, which makes it easier to absorb certain nutrients and digest food better. Compared to raw carrots, cooked carrots, for example, have more beta carotene, an antioxidant that can be converted to vitamin A and improves bone, eye, and reproductive health. Skip the kale salad and opt to cook or lightly steam your kale instead — it contains the compound isothiocyanates, which blocks your body from using iodine (which it needs!) Other vegetables that have beneficial nutrient value when cooked are: Spinach, mushrooms, eggplant, asparagus and red bell pepper.
Benefits of Raw Vegetables
Water-soluble vitamins such as C and B vitamins are often lost during the cooking process. Minerals like potassium, phosphorus, calcium, magnesium, iron and zinc may be reduced by up to 60 to 70 percent. Glucosinolate, the sulfur-containing nutrient in broccoli that may help fight cancer, is also decreased when the vegetable is boiled. The amount of nutrients lost during cooking depends on many factors including preparation cooking methods and duration of cooking. So veggies in their raw form will give you the highest nutrient level.
Cooking and Preparation Methods to Retain Nutrients
Choose cooking methods that reduce the time that vegetables are exposed to heat to reduce nutrient loss. Steam and microwave produce to reduce cooking time. Once picked, raw vegetables begin to lose nutrients. Store vegetables in the refrigerator and only purchase the amount you can use in a few days. Try produce that is local and in season to obtain the most nutrients.
The Bottom Line
Regardless of how you prepare them, vegetables are full of fiber, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals that help sustain your health. Because there are benefits and disadvantages of cooking your vegetables, you should prepare them in the way you are more likely to eat them. Fill half of your plate with fruits and vegetables to reach the recommended five to ten servings of both each day.