To Cook Or Not To Cook Vegetables?

Raw or cooked: which is healthier?

This is a very controversial issue and while healthy eaters will go off on a rant proving their point of view, scientists will insist on keeping the reasonable balance. Let’s try to find out which is better – raw or cooked?

The main argument of those who follow a raw food diet is that cooked vegetables lose all vitamins and enzymes. It seems logical but it is not that easy. Everyone agrees that a healthy diet is impossible without fresh vegetables. However, we should be aware that when we stew or grill some vegetables, useful elements become even more easily digestible! Here is a list of vegetables that are healthier cooked than raw:

1. Carrots

From childhood we are taught that carrots are good for our vision because of its high beta-carotene content. This pigment makes carrots bright orange. In a human body, beta-carotene is converted into Vitamin A that is essential for good vision. A 2002 study showed that in cooked carrots the level of beta-carotene is much higher and it is better digested.  

2. Tomatoes

Actually, most of us already eat a lot of cooked tomatoes. Just think: we typically add tomato sauce or tomato paste to pasta or what about ketchup in hamburgers? If it is not about you, then it is high time to add cooked tomatoes into your diet. Raw tomatoes give only 4% of lycopene, a powerful antioxidant found not only in tomatoes but other red fruits and vegetables. During thermal processing, the accessibility of lycopene is increasing and our body digests it much better.  

3. Spinach

Spinach gained its popularity partly, thanks to a cartoon about the sailor named Popeye who adored spinach. People assumed that Popeye was so strong because he ate so much spinach. Well, this is true to some extent because spinach is rich in iron. But this is also a good source of folate, the B Vitamin which is essential for cells growth. Folate is also naturally present in dark green leafy vegetables. You probably noticed that when we cook spinach it welts, so we can eat more of it and consequently, get more folate.  

4. Asparagus

These small delicate stems are rich in Vitamins A, C, E, and folate. These vitamins are known as cancer-fighters. However, when we eat raw asparagus, we do not get enough of these vitamins. It is recommended to cook asparagus to get as much of the Vitamins and folate as possible. 

5. Squash

Only very loyal raw eaters eat squash uncooked. But they probably may want to start cooking it because cooked squash is much more useful than raw. The same is true with other gourds including zucchini. Squash is rich in beta-carotene like carrots and it is better digested when we thermally process the vegetables. Not so many veggies can compete with mashed squash in healthiness!