Raw or cooked, recipe or no – it is better to eat than not to!
Our bodies thrive on nutrients contained in food. To get the optimum use (absorption)of those nutrients however, studies have revealed that the preparation thereof, is directly linked to the release of certain beneficial nutrients and the blocking of some not so beneficial compounds.
Today we shall discuss some foods that are better or that release different nutrients when cooked as opposed to eaten raw. As a general rule of thumb green vegetables have been found to hold their nutrients better when steamed. Boiling in water tend to let some nutrients go to waste -you lose water-soluble B-vitamins and vitamin C when you boil them. So, if you’d like to cook these types of foods, cook them at low heat without exposing them to too much water. Cooking methods includes blanching, microwaving, steaming, roasting. Note that consuming raw contains other nutrients which we will discuss later.
Chard, spinach & some other leafy greens contain oxalic acid which blocks your natural ability to absorb calcium & iron. Slightly steaming overcome this. Cooked spinach also provides greater amounts of Zinc, Vitamins A & E, thiamine, protein, fibre and furthermore release more carotenoids for absorption. Sautéing spinach with extra virgin olive oil increases the bioavailability of lutein – a carotenoid that is only being absorbed when accompanied by fat.
In red/orange/yellow plants such as carrots, sweet potato, tomato and spinach cooking significantly increases the bioavailability of beta carotene. Cooking helps here by breaking down the plants’ cell walls.
Cooked Tomatoes releases more Lycopene(anti-oxidant) which is beneficial for heart health and the prevention of prostate cancer.
Brussels sprouts, Broccoli, Cabbage, cauliflower and other cruciferous foods contain a chemical goitrin that block the production of thyroid hormones. Cooking these vegetables reduce chemicals that can harm the thyroid hormone production by up to 66%. People already suffering from an underactive thyroid gland will know that consuming these vegetables raw further lead to constipation, dry hair, cold hands and feet etc.
Cooking denatures (change the nature of-) protein in eggs and meat, which make them much more digestible.
Cooking also reduces certain harmful food components, such as cyanide (found in yucca) and possible anti-nutrients (grains & beans), making way for all the good stuff those foods have to offer.
Food with tough cellular walls which inhibits digestion are also better consumed and digested when cooked such as mushrooms.
Water soluble vitamins (vitamins B and C) lose the most nutrients when cooked.
Fat soluble vitamins (vitamins A, D, E, K) lose the fewest nutrients when cooked.