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Raw versus Cooked Vegetables

Readers of my blogs and followers of my Eating Plan know I really push the vegetables. Long gone are the days of 4 fruit and vegetables per day as being considered adequate. Now you need to strive for 9 plus servings of fruits and vegetables per day.

I am often asked if it is best to cook vegetables or eat them raw. The answer is it depends on the vegetable. I’m not suggesting you only eat raw or cooked of certain vegetables, as the priority is to eat lots of vegetables regardless of whether they are raw or cooked. So enjoy them all but keep the following facts in mind as you make your choices and strive for maximum nutritional benefit.

Cooking carrots reduces their vitamin C but increases beta-carotene, the precursor nutrient to Vitamin A. So eat them both ways as both nutrients are important to good bones.

Vitamins C and B as well as certain phytochemicals and flavonoids are water soluble and therefore easily lost when cooked in water. Broccoli, kale and bell peppers are high in these nutrients so incorporate them raw into your meals. When you cook these vegetables, steam, sauté, or roast (my favorite way to cook) instead of cooking in water. 

To maximize the lycopene from tomatoes cook them as cooked tomatoes have a higher lycopene content than raw. Carrots, spinach, broccoli, mushrooms, zucchini, asparagus, cabbage, and peppers give you more carotenoids when cooked.

Vitamins A, D, E and K and phytonutrients beta-carotene, lycopene and other carotenoids are best absorbed when cooked with vegetable oil. So add oil-based salad dressings, avocado, nuts and seeds to your salads to maximize absorption. Use healthy oils to sauté or roast vegetables or add after steaming. Chopping also further releases these healthy nutrients.

All vegetables are good for you – raw or cooked but these tips can help you maximize their bone healthy nutrients.

posted 12/18/2019