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Should we be eating our vegetables raw or cooked?

Traditionally, we boil fibrous vegetables such as broccoli, beans and cabbage and eat salad vegetables raw. With the increasing popularity of the raw diet, should we be trying to leave our vegetables raw to maximise their nutritional benefits?

When it comes to eating vegetables, steaming has been considered the best method. However, research shows that the best preparation method depends on the vegetable. During the cooking process, some nutrients within a vegetable can be reduced whilst others can be increased. The benefit to cooking vegetables occurs as a result of the breakdown of fibres that are hard to digest and the deactivation of chemicals that block the absorption of certain nutrients.

Vegetable

Method

Beetroot

Spinach

Mushrooms

Red peppers

Tomatoes

Broccoli

Carrots

Raw

Cooked

Cooked

Raw

Cooked

Cooked (higher in Indole)

Raw (higher in Sulforphane)

Cooked (higher in Beta Carotene)

Raw (higher in Polyphenols)

Whilst it is possible to thrive on a diet of raw food, we have evolved with cooking and it’s likely our digestive system has evolved to digest some foods best in raw form and some in cooked form. Needless to say, the cooking method is really important. Boil your spinach for 10 minutes will not leave you with many nutrients!