Pros & Cons of Cooked vs Raw Foods
When it comes to getting the most micronutrients from fruits and vegetables, you may be wondering if eating raw foods is better than eating cooked foods. Does cooking fruits and vegetables destroy or release nutrients which your body needs to be healthy? The answer to that depends on various criteria which we will address in this article.
Cooking Vegetables and Fruits
Eating fresh, raw fruits and vegetables is, by far, the best choice since their nutritious state is not disturbed in any way prior to consumption. The process of cooking vegetables and fruits, however, contains both pros and cons which should be considered.
Cooking raw foods can severely reduce the amounts of certain micronutrients. The effectiveness of fat-soluble vitamins such as A, D, E and K and water-soluble vitamins like B and C are somewhat reduced when fruits and vegetables are cooked. The loss is significantly increased when these foods are overcooked.
However, some nutrients are actually enhanced by the cooking process. For example, lycopene in tomatoes is an important antioxidant which absorbs into the body more easily when broken down through the cooking process. As a matter of fact, the cooking, chopping, dicing and grinding of tomatoes into salsas, pastas and sauces are all effective at assisting with lycopene absorption.
Steamed vegetables have a couple of important nutritious advantages. First of all, a small amount of water is used when steaming which reduces the amount of nutrients lost from being submerged and soaked. Most of the nutrients are retained since they don’t have a chance to leach out.
Secondly, vegetables are normally steamed either whole or in large sections which further reduces nutrient loss. Every time a cut is made in a fruit or vegetable and then cooked, it leaves an opening for the nutrients to escape. Fewer cuts mean fewer openings for such runoff.
The effects of many vegetables are actually enhanced by the steaming process. For instance, the clearing of toxins within the digestive system is greatly helped by steaming cabbage, broccoli, kale, bell peppers, and mustard and collard greens.
The one form of fruit and vegetable preparation which you should avoid is boiling. This cooking process drastically reduces the nutritional benefit and effectiveness of antioxidants of most foods. Broccoli, for example, loses 65% of its vitamin C when boiled while the vitamin C level in spinach is reduced by 60% under the same process.
The exception to boiling is potatoes. These hearty spuds retain their full levels of vitamins B and C regardless of how they are cooked.
The key to maintaining a healthy diet of fruits and vegetables is to eat plenty of them in a variety of prepared ways. The healthiest forms are to eat these delicious foods raw or steamed. However, you can also benefit from foods that are sautéed, baked, or quick fried. Even boiled foods are ok once in awhile when you want to mix things up. Just keep boiled vegetables and fruits to a minimum.
Education and smart planning are the answers to consuming a healthy diet. So enjoy plentiful helpings of an assortment of fruits and vegetables prepared in a variety of ways and reap their nutritious benefits.
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Date Published : 2012-02-29 15:14:49
Written By : Rod White
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