Are vegetables healthier raw or cooked?

There is no simple and easy answer to this as some vegetables need heat to bring out the best nutrients in them such as tomatoes whilst others are more nutritious uncooked.

Cooking vegetables can potentially destroy some of the vitamin content and can destroy certain enzymes but some of these enzymes are not essential to human health and, in some instances, cooking these vegetables and destroying the enzymes makes them easier to digest.

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For people who have digestive issues

Breaking down raw vegetables is hard on the digestive system and can cause a number of issues including digestive discomfort such as gas and bloating, so in these instances lightly cooking vegetables will help to break down the plants’ cell walls making them easier to digest.

If this is the case for you then cook away – it is better for you to cook and eat your vegetables than not have them at all because they cause digestive discomfort.

Certain vegetables are also enhanced during cooking

This is true of tomatoes – cooking them boosts the amount of lycopene which is a powerful antioxidant that is believed to fight a variety of cancers.

Steaming broccoli increases its content of glucosinolates, a group of compounds also believed to have cancer-fighting abilities.

Steaming is more beneficial than boiling

It helps to preserve rather than destroy nutrients, steaming helps to avoid overcooking which is what causes vegetables to lose nutrients.

Steaming and stir frying are your best options and the best way to cook cruciferous vegetables is to blanch them, put them in a pot of boiling water for a few minutes and then drain them and rinse with ice-cold water, this stops them from being mushy and helps to keep them crunchy.

raw vs cooked vegetables_2Eating lots of raw foods is the key to an anti-cancer style diet

There is no advantage to eating a diet of all raw foods against cooked foods, excluding steamed vegetables and vegetables soups from your diet will narrow your nutrient intake.

 Many raw food advocates mistakenly conclude that as many cooked foods are not healthy for us then all cooked foods are bad and this is simply not true.  It is true that when foods are cooked at high temperatures, and particularly if they are fried or barbecued, that toxic compounds are produced and important nutrients are lost.

Many vitamins are water soluble so nutrients can be lost with overcooking as can the plant enzymes which function as phtyochemical nutrients in the body and help to maximise our health.

Increase digestibility and absorption

However, when we heat, soften and moisturise some vegetables and beans we increase the potential digestibility and absorption as some of the harmful anti-nutrients that interfere with the absorption of nutrients are destroyed during the cooking process.

Steaming vegetables and vegetables soups starts to break down the plants so that less of our own enzymes are needed to digest the food not more, so this would be the optimal way to prepare vegetables.

Raw vs cooked vegetables

Eating lots of raw vegetables is important in a healthy diet and this can easily be done by incorporating salads with every meal. But the bottom line is that an all raw diet is not necessarily the healthiest way to eat, we also don’t eat nearly enough vegetables so I just ask that you eat at least a minimum of 5 servings of vegetables a day.

Keep these preparation facts in mind to expand your nutrient density intake and your absorption of plant proteins.

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