Which Is Healthier? Raw Vegetables Or Cooked Vegetables?

Vegetables are the healthiest portion of our meals. These are not only low on calories and carbohydrates, but are also a rich source of useful vitamins and minerals. The dilemma of nutrition from consuming raw vegetables over cooked can be never-ending. There are many contradictory opinions regarding this. Some health nuts definitely prefer raw vegetables over cooked, but this logic might not always have a sound scientific backing. Similarly, there are many people who promote the idea of consuming cooked vegetables as the healthier option. But, none of these radical ideas are all the way scientifically proven.

Cooking is indeed an important part of our diet. And, it definitely helps in aiding digestion of various foods like meats and fibers. But, there are lots of foods that are more nutritional when consumed raw. And there are other vegetables that lose out on nutrients when cooked excessively as well.

So, what do you do now? Let science help you out.

Science Clarifies Nutrition Myths

According to a study published

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in the British Journal of Nutrition, a group of 198 people who ate raw food, were observed in the study. Probing into the nutrient profiles of these individuals showed that the subjects had normal levels of Vitamin A and above-average levels of beta carotene, but low levels of lycopene.

Lycopene is a red-colored pigment generally found in tomatoes and other fruits with red hue like watermelons, red bell peppers, guavas etc. Many researches by various prestigious establishments like Harvard Medical Schools, have found links between higher consumption of lycopene and reduced risk of heart attacks and cancer. Lycopene is a powerful antioxidant that can protect us from oxidative damage. According to Rui Hai Liu, an associate professor of food science at Cornell University, lycopene is comparatively a more powerful antioxidant that vitamin C.

Researches have shown that lycopene percentage increases by 35% when foods like tomatoes are cooked. Also, it has been found that intake of certain nutrients by the human body increases when those foods are cooked. It is believed that cooking helps in breaking down the thick cell walls of

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such vegetables and freeing up the nutrients associated with them. Hence, cooking can aid in the consumption of those nutrients.

According to Liu, cooking also has a downside to it. Cooking can destroy vitamin C in vegetables. Cooking tomatoes for half an hour can destroy about 29% of vitamin C present, as it is highly unstable and gets degraded easily from extended exposure to heat and oxidation. Also, some vegetables are better consumed raw, like broccoli. Cooking broccoli can destroy an enzyme called myrosinase, which helps in breaking down glucosinates, which produce sulforaphane. Sulforaphane is a compound that has the capability of killing precancerous cells.

Uses Of Cooked Vegetables

Carrots, mushrooms, spinach, cabbage, asparagus are some of the vegetables that should be cooked before eating. Cooking enhances the nutrient profiles of these vegetables. Cooking increases the percentage of ferulic acids and carotenoids in theses vegetables.

Uses Of Raw Vegetables

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Broccoli, cauliflower, celery, bok choy are few vegetables that should be eaten raw for obtaining complete nutrition. Consuming raw vegetables can help in the preservation of certain nutrients like vitamin C and B. Exposure to heat and oxidation can destroy these vitamins. So, eating vegetables rich in these vitamins can provide our bodies with a complete set of nutrients.

Cooking Hacks To Safeguard Nutrients

Cooking can destroy certain nutrients due to its prolong exposure to heat. Steaming or microwaving vegetables can reduce the time of exposure to heat, and can help in the preservation of nutrients. Vegetables start losing their nutrients after picking. Hence, fresh produce from vendors should be used for cooking, instead of refrigerated vegetables from super markets.

So, now you know which vegetables to cook and which not to cook for consumption. Use this information and hacks to find your way to complete nutritional bliss.