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Vegetables: Raw vs Cooked

By: Georga Holt 

 

Well - both of the above methods hold their own benefits. Raw vegetables are generally higher in antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. However, when certain vegetables are cooked it can actually release more potent nutrient levels. For example: cooking broccoli, silver beet & zucchini enhances their Vitamin E levels. Or cooking tomatoes can enhance their lycopene properties by three times. 

 

Cooked vegetables can be easier to digest because during the process of roasting, steaming, frying etc it can denature the proteins making it easier on the stomach. The process of cooking can also break down hard to digest fibres improving our absorption of certain nutrients. 

 

Raw vegetables are not only rich in antioxidants, but they are also full of enzymes which are super important for digestion. For example - papaya contains papain which is an extremely important digestive enzyme that helps our body breakdown our food. 

 

If you are having trouble digesting raw food but feel like you have a good balance of raw/cooked - then perhaps investigative work needs to be done to find out why your digestive system isn’t able to breakdown food as well as it should. 
Signs/symptoms to look out for: bloating (straight away or a few hours after eating), change in bowel habits, undigested food in your stool, gas, reflux etc. 

 

Tips for eating: 

  • When in doubt - boil. 
  • When eating raw food - make sure you chew. (this also goes for cooked food) 
    - ok so yes sometimes we get so excited we just want to demolish our food, but chewing is an important step to help our stomach digest our food properly. 
  • Make sure to put away all distractions 
    - looking at you -- phones, computer, TV/Netflix. 
    - Making sure we allow our body time to rest/digest is the key to ensuring the body can break down food properly. 
  • Don’t drink too much water 30 mins before, during & 30 mins after a meal 
    - water can dilute our digestive enzymes which in return can interfere with our body’s ability to breakdown food. 

 

Combining both cooked & raw gets a big tick from me. This will ensure you are consuming all the types of nutrients, minerals, vitamins etc for good health! 

 

Foods healthier raw: 

Broccoli 

Cabbage 

Cucumber 

Onions 

Garlic 

 

Foods healthier cooked:

Asparagus 

Broccoli

Mushrooms 

Spinach 

Tomato 

Carrot 

Potato 

 

References

 

Lee, S., Choi, Y., Jeong, H. S., Lee, J., & Sung, J. (2017). Effect of different cooking methods on the content of vitamins and true retention in selected vegetables. Food science and biotechnology27(2), 333–342. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10068-017-0281-1

 

Schlotz, N., Odongo, G. A., Herz, C., Waßmer, H., Kühn, C., Hanschen, F. S., Neugart, S., Binder, N., Ngwene, B., Schreiner, M., Rohn, S., & Lamy, E. (2018). Are Raw Brassica Vegetables Healthier Than Cooked Ones? A Randomized, Controlled Crossover Intervention Trial on the Health-Promoting Potential of Ethiopian Kale. Nutrients10(11), 1622. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu10111622

 

Slavin, J. L., & Lloyd, B. (2012). Health benefits of fruits and vegetables. Advances in nutrition (Bethesda, Md.)3(4), 506–516. https://doi.org/10.3945/an.112.002154

  

Ercolini, D., & Fogliano, V. (2018). Food Design To Feed the Human Gut Microbiota. Journal of agricultural and food chemistry66(15), 3754–3758. https://doi.org/10.1021/acs.jafc.8b00456

 

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