Vegetables: To Cook, or Not to Cook?

When it comes to food, there’s one point on which just about everyone is in agreement: it’s a good idea to eat vegetables. Packed with nutrients, vegetables are good for many different ailments, as well as overall health and wellness. How we eat our vegetables is a different story. Some people love their vegetables well done, while others feel that steaming them until they’re just al dente is better for keeping in the nutrients, and still, others believe that only raw vegetables pack the appropriate nutritional punch. Who is correct? Do veggies have to be raw to have value, or can you cook them until they’re basically mush?  

As it turns out, the answer is pretty complex. For example, when carrots are boiled, they lose their polyphenols, which have antioxidant properties and can reduce the risk of heart disease and cancer, but their carotenoid levels are increased. Carotenoids like beta-carotene and lutein, which protect against things like eye disease and cancer, are also boosted in other vegetables, including spinach, mushrooms, asparagus, cabbage, peppers, and zucchini, when boiled or steamed. Asparagus and tomatoes are better for you when cooked, while beets, broccoli, and red peppers are more beneficial raw, because cooking robs them of nutrients like folate, myrosinase, and vitamin C. Further, a recent study of people following a strict raw food diet indicated that, while they had normal levels of vitamin A and relatively high levels of beta-carotene, they were lacking in terms of lycopene, which lowers the risk of cancer and heart attacks. This might indicate that mixing it up, eating some raw and some cooked, is a more nutritious way to go.

The bottom line? Eat your vegetables. If you like them raw, eat them raw, and if you prefer cooked, cook them! Whatever you have to do to them to make them appealing, that’s what you should do. One caveat: don’t deep fry them, as this releases free radicals and kills antioxidants.

No matter how you choose to prepare your vegetables, make sure you’re eating at least five servings a day! A balanced diet is at the heart of a balanced life, which is the key to reaching your optimal state of wellness. At our clinic, our doctors can help to create a nutritional plan that is perfect for you and your lifestyle. To learn about how we can help you live your best life, call for your free consultation today.

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