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Cooked Vegetables vs. Raw: Two Veggies You Should Cook

Dr. Kristie Leong

Raw foodists recommend you eat veggies raw. They believe that cooking vegetables destroys most of their nutritional value and makes them less healthful. While it's true that boiling vegetables in water or cooking them too long causes nutrient and vitamin loss, some vegetables are more nutritious cooked - not raw. Here are two veggies you should cook to maximize their health benefits.

Cooked Vegetables vs. Raw Vegetables: Cooked Carrots May Be Better

Carrots are one of the very best sources of beta-carotene, a natural compound that's converted to vitamin A in the body - and also serves as an antioxidant. Many people munch on them raw, but they may not be getting the full health benefits of carrots this way. Carrots have a resistant cell wall that locks in the beta-carotene and makes it more difficult for the body to absorb. Cooking helps to dissolve some of the cellulose, so you can better use the available beta-carotene.

According to the Institute of Food Research [which later became part of the Quadram Institute for Bioscience, in 2017], the body can only absorb four percent of the beta-carotene in carrots, but when you cook them, absorption increases up to five times. When cooking carrots to maximize health benefits, cook them whole - and then cut or mash them. According to recent research, cooking carrots before chopping preserves more of their nutrients.

Cooked vs. Raw Vegetables: Cooked Tomatoes Have More Lycopenes

Tomatoes lose some of their vitamin C when they're cooked, but heating, processing, or crushing boost their antioxidant power. Cooked tomatoes are a good source of a carotenoid called lycopene - a strong antioxidant that may play a role in reducing the risk of heart disease and some types of cancer. It's the lycopenes in tomatoes that gives them their bright red color. Unfortunately, you won't get as many of them if you eat sliced tomatoes. Try tomato sauce or stewed tomatoes instead.

Cooked Vegetables vs. Raw Vegetables: The Bottom Line?

Raw vegetables have benefits, but so do cooked, as long as you cook them properly. Cook them with as little water as possible - and not for too long. Save the water which contains valuable nutrients and vitamins that leeched out during the cooking process and use it in soups. However, you choose to do it, get your five a day.

References:

BBC News. “Cooking vegetables ‘improves benefits'”
Science Daily. “Cooking Tomatoes Boosts Disease-Fighting Power”


Health Disclaimer. Copyright ©2010-2018. Dr. Kristie Leong is a family practice physician and medical writer. Published with permission.