To cook or not to cook? That is the question.
Well, the answer is both!
It has been said that eating your vegetables raw will provide you with the most health benefits, as cooking them can kill the vitamins and minerals it provides. However, there are some foods where consuming it cooked is actually better than consuming it raw.
Cooking is crucial to our diets. It helps us digest food without expending huge amounts of energy (this energy can then be used for other things eg. cell repair). It also softens food (cellulose fibre, raw meats) that our small teeth, weak jaws and digestive systems aren’t equipped to handle. Not only this, but the heat helps break down the plant’s thick cell wall to help the body absorb the nutrients that are bound within them.
However, having said this, there are some downsides to cooking vegetables; the one we’re most familiar with is destroying some of the vitamins within. Vitamin C is the most common, as it is a very unstable vitamin which is easily destroyed from exposure to heat.
Your cooking method can also influence your vitamin loss. Cooking with minimal water means loss of water soluble vitamins (B and C) can be minimised; think roasting or steaming (boiled veg will be dissolved in water). You can then choose to save the cooking water to make sauces or soups.
Here is a list of a few ingredients which is best prepared cooked or raw.
Asparagus: increases its cancer fighting potential
Mushrooms: increases potassium levels (cell and tissue function)
Spinach: easily absorb calcium (bone health), iron (blood health) and magnesium (nerve and muscle function)
Tomatoes: body absorbs more of its antioxidants
Beetroot: you can lose up to 25% of its folate if cooked
Brocolli: heat decrease the enzyme responsible for cleansing the liver
Onion: loss of allicin when cooked. Allicin helps normalise your lipoprotein, lower blood pressure and is an anti inflammatory.
Capsicum: loss of vitamin C if cooked
Whether you choose to eat your vegetables raw or cooked, the most important thing is to make sure it is included in your diet. Choose a variety of colours and types to not only maximise your nutritional intake, but to also make your dinner plate look more exciting!
Until next time!