Inside Scoop: Raw vs. cooked? It depends on the food you are eating. Here are 5 delicious vegetables that are better for your body when they are cooked.

This post was submitted by Jed van Roon-Gifford who loves good food. He loves growing it, cooking it, and especially, eating it.

It’s a well-known fact that we need to eat a large variety of vegetables every day.

They are full of minerals and vitamins, which nourish and strengthen the body. A great source of fiber, they have antioxidants and other plant compounds, which our bodies need.

Fiber helps you feel fuller for longer, may assist in weight loss and reduce the risk of some cancers and type 2 Diabetes. Antioxidants and plant compounds protect the cells from free radicals that cause disease in the body. Diets high in antioxidants have been linked to a lower risk of diseases and slower aging.

The health benefits of eating vegetables are many. Improved heart health and stronger immunity are the results of enjoying the wide variety of nutrients vegetables provide. Studies have found that those who eat the most vegetables may have up to 70% less risk of heart disease.

If you haven’t begun adding more vegetables to your diet now is the time to start. A variety of vegetables with each meal will add an array of color to your plate and will also give your body a wonderful range of life-giving nutrients.

Most vegetables can be eaten raw or cooked. Eating them raw is a good way of getting the most of the vitamins, minerals, and fiber they contain.

Most vegetables can be eaten raw but cooking some offers enhanced nutritional benefits. It often improves their taste and smell too.

4 REASONS TO COOK VEGETABLES

 

  1. Cell walls are broken down when they are cooked, making them easier for the body to digest. When this happens the body can benefit from its full nutritional value. Sweet potato is an example of a vegetable that is better digested when cooked.
  2. The body absorbs antioxidants like lycopene, beta-carotene, and lutein more easily when vegetables are cooked. While cooking tomatoes reduces their Vitamin C content, it releases the lycopene. Lycopene has been found to lower the risk of heart disease and the risk of prostate cancer.
  3. Natural substances such as phytic acid and lectins which are undesirable in large amounts are made inactive when cooked. Found in grains and legumes, they can hinder the absorption of minerals.
  4. Cooking vegetables may increase the release of some nutrients.

Some believe that cooking vegetables damages vitamins and antioxidants. And this can be true depending on the method used for cooking them and how long they are cooked for.

The longer vegetables are exposed to heat, the greater the loss of nutrients. So keep your cooking time short.

Studies have shown that boiling vegetables results in a big loss of nutrients. Water-soluble vitamins B and C are absorbed by the water when boiled.  Use the water boiled liquid to make sauces or stocks so you don’t lose the Vitamins.

Steaming, sautéing and stir-frying are better ways of cooking vegetables. Vegetables cooked this way retain more of their nutrients and antioxidants. Broccoli, for example, increases its content of glucosinolates  when steamed.

Research has shown that cooking vegetables, like carrots, increase antioxidant levels. Antioxidants fight against free radicals in the body and may prevent chronic diseases like IBS, Alzheimer’s and cancer.

Different cooking methods preserve the nutritional compounds of each vegetable. Knowing which method to use when cooking your vegetables will enable you to get the full nutritional benefit of each one.

5 VEGETABLES THAT ARE BEST COOKED

 

MUSHROOMS

A great source of protein, fiber, minerals and vitamins, mushrooms are low in calories and fat. These fungi can strengthen the immune system and help decrease the risk of cancer.

Studies have found that mushrooms are rich in lysine and leucine amino acids, proteins that maintain healthy cells and repair body tissue. Some mushroom proteins have anti-cancer and antibacterial properties. Mushrooms have tough cell walls making it difficult for our bodies to absorb all the goodness they have to offer. Cooking them softens the cell walls and makes the minerals, vitamins, and protein more digestible.

Grilling mushrooms is the best way to cook them. When boiled or fried, the mushrooms lose a lot of proteins and antioxidant compounds. Grilling mushrooms increases antioxidant activity without any significant nutritional losses.

 

TOMATOES

Tomatoes, a Mediterranean staple, contain high quantities of vitamins and minerals.

They are rich in calcium, phosphorus, potassium, vitamins C and A. They also have a wide range of antioxidants and beneficial nutrients including lutein, beta-carotene, and lycopene.

This versatile vegetable can be eaten every day in salads, sandwiches, sauces, and stews.

Eating tomatoes can help maintain healthy blood pressure, protect against cancer and reduce blood glucose in diabetics. The carotenoids can also protect the eye against light-induced damage.

While tomatoes are delicious raw, their nutritional value is enhanced with stewing. Cooking tomatoes increases the availability of nutrients such as zeaxanthin, lycopene, and lutein.

Slowly roasting tomatoes or stewing them breaks down the cell walls making them easy for the body to digest. You don’t have to cook them yourself, using canned tomatoes in your cooking is an easy way to enjoy the benefits cooked tomatoes offer.

CARROTS

Rich in minerals, vitamins, and fiber, carrots are considered a super-food. They contain high quantities of Vitamin C, which boosts the immune system and helps fight off disease.

Studies show that the vitamins and antioxidants carrots contain strengthen the body against disease. The dietary carotenoids found in carrots may reduce the risk of prostate, lung and colon cancer.

The nutrients carrots offer also help regulate blood sugar levels, which is especially helpful for those fighting diabetes. Orange carrots are high in beta-carotene, which the body converts into Vitamin A during digestion, and Vitamin A prevents the loss of vision.

In order to get the full benefit of the beta-carotene, it is best to steam carrots. Studies show that steaming carrots increases the availability of the antioxidant beta-carotene.

 

SPINACH

Spinach is a superfood, loaded with tons of nutrients in a low-calorie package. Dark, leafy greens like spinach are important for skin, hair, and bone health.

Spinach contains high amounts of chlorophyll, which is a blood-building compound with anti-aging properties. It is also rich in nutrients like magnesium, iron, zinc, and calcium. The carotenoids found in dark, leafy greens convert into Vitamin A when digested and also have antioxidant activity.

Spinach may also lower the risk of cancer and improve blood glucose control in diabetics when eaten regularly.

While spinach is delicious raw and is a great addition to smoothies, cooking helps break down cell walls. This makes some of the nutrients more available for absorption.

It is important to cook spinach on a low heat as more nutrients are lost when it is exposed to high heat. It should also be cooked briefly. The longer it is cooked, the more nutrients will be lost.

BELL PEPPERS

Red and yellow bell peppers are delicious eaten raw and added to salads. They are naturally sweet, have high water content and are a good source of carbohydrates.

High in anti-inflammatory properties, bell peppers are also rich in iron and Vitamin C. The two work together so that Vitamin C increases the absorption of iron from your gut.

Bell peppers also contain other antioxidants, including quercetin, luteolin, capsanthin, lutein, and violaxanthin. They are also abundant in carotenoids, phytochemicals, and polyphenols. Carotenoids give the peppers their red and yellow pigment and are converted to Vitamin A in the body.

Antioxidants like ferulic acid and carotenoids increase when peppers are cooked.

The best way to cook bell peppers is by stir-frying or roasting them. These methods preserve the antioxidants and nutrient compositions more than steaming and boiling. Do not boil them as this results in the most loss of nutrients and antioxidants.

So, these are 5 vegetables that are better for your body when they are cooked, but remember that eating your vegetables whether raw or cooked is then goal. Having a balanced combination of raw and cooked meals, and perhaps focusing on more warming meals in the winter and more refreshing raw dishes in the summer can provide your body with the colorful nutrients it needs.

Jed van Roon-Gifford

Jed van Roon-Gifford loves food. He loves growing it, cooking it, and especially, eating it. When he is not in the garden caring for this season’s veggies, he enjoys exploring natural health, wellness and nutrition. His other passion is writing: learning about the world we live in and relaying helpful information to others. Currently, Jed writes cookware reviews and guides. An entrepreneur at heart, Jed is just as comfortable taking on new challenges and learning new skills in an effort to share the benefits of healthy living with others.

 

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