The Veggie Dilemma…
If eating your vegetables wasn’t hard (or enjoyable) enough, now there’s a debate on how to eat them, Raw vs Cooked. I’ve seen and experienced it all. My friend went all raw and relieved her painful bouts of Endometriosis. I once ate 90% of my veggies raw and ended up with stomach cramps and queasiness for a week. We both went raw because we thought it was the most nutritious way to eat our vegetables. The more raw, the more nutrients, and healthy for you, right? Let’s find out…
Putting Your Veggies On The “Hot” Seat (or not!)….
Q: Raw vs Cook… Why even the question?
A: If you’re going to eat your veggies, or any food, you might as well get the most out of it. For the most part, your body does not eat for taste, it needs certain nutrients in certain amounts. Without these nutrients, your body will crave more food, which means more calories, causing weight gain and other health issues. Also, vegetables contain certain nutrients not found anywhere else, you’d hate to lose them in the preparation process.
Q: What are the benefits of cooking?
A: Cooking breaks down cellulose (vegetable) fiber, which releases certain minerals and makes it easier to digest. For example, one cup of raw spinach has 34mg of Calcium, but when cooked, it shoots up to 245mg! Also, certain nutrients change their form when heated and can be easier for the body to utilize. Tomatoes have a powerful antioxidant Lycopene that become more bioavailable when cooked.
Q: Doesn’t heat break down nutrients?
A: Only certain ones, and plant enzymes. Water soluble vitamins – Vitamin C, B-Complex, Folate, etc..these nutrients are very susceptible to heat. But also plant enzymes are very sensitive. These enzymes help you in digestion, however, your body makes its own, so they are not as important for most.
Q: What are the best vegetables to eat raw?
A: Usually, all Cruciferous vegetables – Broccoli, Brussel Sprouts, Cauliflower, Kale, Onion, Zucchini, Squash, Bell Peppers, and Garlic.
A: These vegetables have certain compounds or enzymes, that when broken down, do not allow it to activate powerful antioxidants and/or phytochemicals that are anti-cancer promoting. Bell Peppers for example lose 75% of their antioxidants when cooked because many of them are water soluble and break down in heat. Broccoli, Brussel Sprouts, Garlic, contain specialized enzymes, which heat damages, that release sulfur based anti-cancer compounds.
Q: What are the best vegetables to cook?
A: Asparagus, Tomatoes, Carrots, Spinach, Mushrooms, Potatoes, Celery, and Green Beans.
A: These vegetables have tightly bound nutrients, that need heat to release them. They can also be harder to chew and digest, softening these vegetables make it easier on you and your body.
Q: Are there better cooking methods?
A: Steaming, Microwaving, and Pressure cooking was the best – average loss of nutrients was about 10% and Frying was the worst – average loss was 65%. From Best To Worst..
- Boiling (due to nutrients being lost in the water, but adding water back in was a plus!)
Q: What do you do?
A: I mix it up. I realized that after eating too many raw vegetables daily, I tore my stomach up. I started to cook 50-60% of them, I felt great! I lightly cook my vegetables, low heat, short amount of time, in a pan with butter. The butter (fat), further releases minerals and other nutrients from vegetables (that’s why they say to cook tomatoes with olive oil!). I finely chop my vegetables and leave out for 20-30min, this allows for the natural enzymes to take effect further releasing nutrients!
Oh and MOST importantly, I don’t worry about it, Cooked or Raw, they are ALL beneficial, so I focus on eating more vegetables than how I prepare them!