Everyone knows that raw vegetables are good for you. In most cases raw vegetables are in fact the way to go. However, there are some exceptions to this general rule…
Lycopene, a carotenoid found in tomatoes, is absorbed by the body 3 to 4 times more readily when tomatoes are cooked. Fortunately for all you chefs out there, lycopene is known to reduce the risk of cancer and heart disease. One study, in fact, confirmed that people on a strict raw food diet had low lycopene levels. Using a fat like olive oil when cooking tomatoes, will further help your body absorb the lycopene.
Beta-carotene, vitamin A and vitamin K become more available to the body when kale is cooked versus when it’s served raw. Now you just have to find some solid cooked kale recipes!
Cooking spinach has been shown to increase levels of beta-carotene, magnesium, iron, lutein and calcium. In fact, cooking spinach more than triples its calcium levels.
Another study found that cooking carrots increases beta-carotene levels. The body converts beta-carotene to vitamin A, which is know to improve vision, bone health, reproduction and the immune system.
Though technically not a vegetable, mushrooms are also better for you when cooked. Mushrooms have very tough cell walls that break down during cooking, releasing nutrients in the process. Also, some mushrooms actually contain toxins, which cooking effectively destroys.
Raw is good, but sometimes cooking is the way to go!
Garcia, Ada L., et al. “Long-term strict raw food diet is associated with favourable plasma β-carotene and low plasma lycopene concentrations in Germans.” British journal of nutrition 99.06 (2008): 1293-1300.
Talcott, S. T., L. R. Howard, and C. H. Brenes. “Antioxidant changes and sensory properties of carrot puree processed with and without periderm tissue.”Journal of agricultural and food chemistry 48.4 (2000): 1315-1321.