7 Vegetables You Should Eat Cooked Instead Of Raw

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Vegetables To Enjoy Cooked

The raw food movement is something fierce. It reinforces the concept that salads are good for you – something we have all heard growing up. We're often told that vegetables are best eaten fresh and raw with minimal cooking and processing. Yet, you might be surprised to learn that some vegetables are actually better when cooked. Time to hit the kitchen!

If you are not a fan of raw vegetables, listen up – we have got some news for you. It turns out that some vegetables might actually be healthier when cooked. And while experts often recommend raw veggies, there is quite a few that do not fit into that category. Light heat or steam can actually make some nutrients in certain vegetables easier to absorb in the body. Cooking might even intensify the nutrient content per portion. It just goes to show that all vegetables are not created equally. So if you are not keen on raw veggies or you are looking for a more diverse diet, here is some insight that might surprise you.

Are Cooked Vegetables Better Than Raw?

The simple method of cooking can destroy water-soluble vitamins like Vitamins B and C.1And depending on the method, minerals like calcium, potassium, magnesium, iron, zinc, and phosphorus can also decline by a whopping 70 percent.2This is exactly why raw food has been gracing the counters of so many homes. That is just half the story, though. Cooking food also breaks down their cellular structure, making it easier to absorb and digest. It all depends on the veggie and how you prepare it – whether it is peeled or used whole, and whether it is then steamed, boiled, stir fried, deep fried, or baked. Some methods retain nutrient content, even enhance it, as you will see. Others cause the nutrient levels to deplete, making the method you choose ever so important.

Should You Be Cooking These 7 Vegetables?

1. Carrots

Carrots are known for their high beta-carotene content. This level increases even more when the carrots are cooked.3According to one study, the bioavailability of beta-carotene can significantly increase when the food source is heated or treated. So if you are eating the vegetable to increase your vitamin A intake, you may want to gently steam or roast them first. It is a wonderful (and tasty!) way to promote eye health, strong bones, healthy teeth, and radiant skin.4

2. Mushrooms

Mushrooms are a mixed bag. After cooking, some nutrients like vitamin D decline. Meanwhile, the same process increases the antioxidant vitamin C. In one study, the antioxidant activity of the popular Shiitake mushroom increased significantly after it was heated. Stuffed mushrooms, anyone?5

3. Spinach

Spinach holds so much goodness in its dark green leaves. When you cook this veggie, it wilts and shrinks considerably. This means that one cup of cooked spinach will technically hold more spinach (and nutrients) than one cup raw. Plus, the folate levels of spinach do not drop after steaming or cooking in the microwave. On the other hand, if you boil the leaves, leaching destroys the folate. Again, the specific technique matters.6

4. Asparagus

The fibrous spear-headed asparagus is another vegetable that benefits from cooking. The process breaks down the fiber, making it easier to digest and absorb nutrients. One study determined that it actually increases the antioxidant activity of the vegetable. Researchers noted that cooking increased levels of vital nutrients including beta-carotene, quercetin, zeaxanthin, lutein, phenols, and rutin.7

5. Red Peppers

Red peppers are an amazing source of carotenoids. And, as in carrots, cooking or processing can enhance the bioavailability of those carotenoids.8Experts have also reported that dry heat methods can help with retention of antioxidants. Your best bet? Opt for roasting and frying instead of boiling and steaming.9However, pay attention to cooking time and temperature. Overdoing these factors can destroy antioxidants that may be heat sensitive.

6. Tomatoes

Lycopene has both anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, making it a valuable therapy component for neurodegenerative disease, cardiovascular problems, and even cancer.10It turns out that lycopene also increases after cooking, according to some studies.11In fact, reducing tomatoes down to a sauce, passata, or ketchup can significantly increase the absorptive nature of lycopene.12This is also useful for someone who is not especially fond of chomping on raw tomatoes. Interestingly enough, researchers observed that people on a long-term raw food diet had normal levels of most nutrients – except lycopene. It is another perfect reason to your hand at some homemade pasta sauce.13

7. Broccoli

Are you a fan of broccoli? Try steaming it for best results. It turns out that steaming broccoli can cause the total glucosinolate content of the vegetable to increase. Boiling it, on the other hand, does not provide the same benefits.14

References   [ + ]

1. Food processing and nutrition, Better Health Channel, Victoria State Government.
2. KIMURA, Mieko, and Yoshinori ITOKAWA. “Cooking losses of minerals in foods and its nutritional significance.” Journal of nutritional science and vitaminology 36, no. 4-SupplementI (1990): S25-S33.
3, 8. van het Hof, Karin H., Clive E. West, Jan A. Weststrate, and Joseph GAJ Hautvast. “Dietary factors that affect the bioavailability of carotenoids.” The Journal of nutrition 130, no. 3 (2000): 503-506.
4. Vitamin A, University of Maryland Medical Center.
5. Choi, Y., S. M. Lee, J. Chun, H. B. Lee, and J. Lee. “Influence of heat treatment on the antioxidant activities and polyphenolic compounds of Shiitake (Lentinus edodes) mushroom.” Food Chemistry 99, no. 2 (2006): 381-387.
6. Delchier, Nicolas, Christiane Ringling, Jean-François Maingonnat, Michael Rychlik, and Catherine MGC Renard. “Mechanisms of folate losses during processing: diffusion vs. heat degradation.” Food chemistry 157 (2014): 439-447.
7. Fanasca, Simone, Youssef Rouphael, Eugenia Venneria, Elena Azzini, Alessandra Durazzo, and Giuseppe Maiani. “Antioxidant properties of raw and cooked spears of green asparagus cultivars.” International journal of food science & technology 44, no. 5 (2009): 1017-1023.
9. Hwang, In Guk, Young Jee Shin, Seongeung Lee, Junsoo Lee, and Seon Mi Yoo. “Effects of different cooking methods on the antioxidant properties of red pepper (Capsicum annuum L.).” Preventive nutrition and food science 17, no. 4 (2012): 286.
10. Cruz, Bojórquez RM, Gallego J. González, and Collado P. Sánchez. “[Functional properties and health benefits of lycopene].” Nutricion hospitalaria 28, no. 1 (2012): 6-15.
11. Fielding, Jeanette M., Kevin G. Rowley, Pauline Cooper, and Kerin O’Dea. “Increases in plasma lycopene concentration after consumption of tomatoes cooked with olive oil.” Asia Pacific journal of clinical nutrition 14, no. 2 (2005): 131.
12. Rao, A. V., Zeeshan Waseem, and Sanjiv Agarwal. “Lycopene content of tomatoes and tomato products and their contribution to dietary lycopene.” Food Research International 31, no. 10 (1998): 737-741.
13. Garcia, Ada L., Corinna Koebnick, Peter C. Dagnelie, Carola Strassner, Ibrahim Elmadfa, Norbert Katz, Claus Leitzmann, and Ingrid Hoffmann. “Long-term strict raw food diet is associated with favourable plasma β-carotene and low plasma lycopene concentrations in Germans.” British journal of nutrition 99, no. 06 (2008): 1293-1300.
14. Pellegrini, Nicoletta, Emma Chiavaro, Claudio Gardana, Teresa Mazzeo, Daniele Contino, Monica Gallo, Patrizia Riso, Vincenzo Fogliano, and Marisa Porrini. “Effect of different cooking methods on color, phytochemical concentration, and antioxidant capacity of raw and frozen brassica vegetables.” Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry 58, no. 7 (2010): 4310-4321.
CureJoy Editorial

The CureJoy Editorial team digs up credible information from multiple sources, both academic and experiential, to stitch a holistic health perspective on topics that pique our readers' interest.

CureJoy Editorial

The CureJoy Editorial team digs up credible information from multiple sources, both academic and experiential, to stitch a holistic health perspective on topics that pique our readers' interest.