In recent times more and more noise is being made about the benefits of eating a raw diet, and in particular raw vegetables. The raw food diet is growing in popularity as are its number of advocates. In this article I want to consider the following two questions… does eating exclusively raw vegetables improve your health? And does cooking destroy much of the goodness in vegetables?
The main theory behind eating raw vegetables is that it preserves naturally occurring enzymes. This part is true. But the majority of these enzymes are destroyed by the time they leave our stomachs, duet its highly acidic environment.
But what about vitamins and minerals?
The availability of minerals like Vitamin c and Folate decreases the longer a food is cooked. Also cooking in water rather than steaming will further reduce the availability of nutrients. However rarely will this drop below 50% of the levels found in raw vegetables.
On the other side of the coin there does appear to be some benefit in cooking vegetables when it comes to polyphenols and antioxidants. Cooking can help break down barriers at the molecular level and assist in releasing these helpful compounds. Also cooking vegetables will help to increase the range and variety of vegetables in your diet. Let’s face it, some vegetables just don’t taste good raw. Think broccoli, zucchini and brown onion.
When in comes to preparing vegetables include both cooked and raw varieties in your diet. Never overcook vegetables so they become too soft and slushy. They should maintain a certain level of firmness. Lastly when cooking vegetables choose steaming over boiling. This will keep more nutrients in tact.
At the end of the day no matter whether they are eaten raw or cooked, eating more vegetables as opposed to processed foods will improve your health. For this there is no argument!