Vegetables: Raw or Cooked – Which is Healthier?

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Photo Courtesy of Anna Tokarska

To cook or not to cook my veggies? Which is healthier? That‘s the question I have been asked a lot lately. And the answer is a little more complex than a simple yes or no.

Yes, raw fruits and vegetables are super nutritious and there are some compounds like vitamin C that are highly unstable and can be destroyed by heat. But there are also lots of nutrients hidden away in the tough cellulose fiber of vegetables and cooking makes them more available for our bodies to absorb.

Here are some of the most common veggies, the most beneficial ways to prepare them and the nutrients made available with each method.

Carrots:

RAW
Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant, that helps boost your immune system.

STEAMED/BOILED/SAUTEED/ROASTED
Beta-carotene helps strengthen your immune system and decrease the risk of cancer or heart attacks. It is fat soluble, so enjoy it with a drizzle of good EVOO

Spinach

STEAMED/SAUTEED
Besides stabilizing healthy hemoglobin levels, iron prevents mood swings and promotes happiness. Vitamin C helps your body absorb the iron, so feel free to drizzle with a little lemon juice.

Calcium, because who says you need milk for strong bones

Tomatoes

SAUTEED IN EVOO
Lycopene can help fight cancer and heart disease. Some research suggests it may be an even more potent antioxidant than vitamin C.

Lycopene is fat soluble and adding the olive oil makes it more available to your body.

Broccoli

RAW
Myrosinase, can help your body block the growth of cancer cells and prevent stomach ulcers. Myrosinase is sensitive to heat and destroyed during cooking.

STEAMED
Make sulforaphane more available for absorption. It is known to help fight cancer

Cauliflower

STEAMED
To make most of the antioxidants more available for absorption

Kale

RAW
Vitamin C and polyphenols, which play an important role in preventing and in reducing the progression of diabetes, cancer, and neurodegenerative and cardiovascular diseases

STEAMED/SAUTEED
The body converts beta-carotene into vitamin A, an important player in regulating the immune system vision health, and bone growth.

Eggplant

GRILLED/ROASTED
Is much richer in antioxidants compared to raw or boiled

Red Pepper

RAW
Vitamin C

GRILLED/ROASTED
to preserve red pepper antioxidants

Garlic and onions

RAW/STEAMED/BOILED/SAUTEED/GRILLED/ROASTED
Quercetin is an antioxidant thought to protect against certain forms of cancer, heart disease, and aging.
Garlic and onions have been shown to help fight high blood pressure.

Brussels sprouts and cabbage

RAW
Preserves most folate and vitamin C

STEAMED
Releases more indole, a powerful antioxidant known to balance hormone levels, improve breast health, detoxify the intestines and liver, and support the immune system.

Beans and legumes

BOILED
Beans and legumes are a great source of plant-based protein, complex carbs, and fiber which makes them highly satiating. They are rich in a variety of vitamins (like A, K and B complex), antioxidants and minerals (like copper, folate, iron, magnesium, phosphorous, potassium and zinc). They help boost your immune system, lower bad cholesterol levels, regulate glucose levels in the blood and help keep your heart healthy.

However, raw they are really hard on the digestive system.

To get the most nutrients out of them you can soak and sprout them before boiling.

Always avoid deep frying. The hot oil creates free radicals, which are very damaging to the body, and on top of that, the vegetables lose most of their antioxidants in the process.

To get the most out of your meal design, my recommendation is to eat a colorful variety of fruits and vegetables prepared in all kinds of ways:

Have some shredded raw carrots on your salad today and have them oven roasted as a side to your chicken tomorrow.

Toss some shaved raw Brussels sprouts in a light Italian vinaigrette topped off with some walnuts and sautéed red onion this week and next week enjoy them steamed with some nice goat cheese.

The goal is to eat more fruits and vegetables, and being creative and having fun with it will most likely help you do so.

Christine Stein is a LifeStyle Consultant, Speaker, meal design educator, and NYStrength Master of Fitness Design Honoree. Her international experience gives her unique insights and innovations for the individual needs of her private/corporate clients, and audience around the world. This, combined with her passion to create a “new luxury experience” for those she serves makes her approach unique in design and powerful in impact. Contact christine via email [email protected] or Instagram: christine_stein

Photo “Arcimboldiana #2” is courtesy of artist Anna Tokarskahttp://www.annatokarskastudio.com and Instagram @annatokarskastudio


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1 Comment
  1. Fantastic article with much needed valuable information! Kudos to BeautyNews NYC for always providing such useful information – presented with a flair of style!!

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