Hi, Which fruits and vegetables are heathier cooked than raw? I was thinking that maybe carrots are heathier cooked because it is easier to digest. Thanks, Philip
From a recent NPR piece entitled "Food for Thought: Meat-Based Diet Made Us Smarter"...
(Funny, I thought you had to be a vegan to report for NPR ;-)
As we slice up the turnip and put the potatoes in a pot, Wrangham explains that even after we started eating meat, raw food just didn't pack the energy to build the big-brained, small-toothed modern human. He cites research that showed that people on a raw food diet, including meat and oil, lost a lot of weight. Many said they felt better, but also experienced chronic energy deficiency. And half the women in the experiment stopped menstruating.
It's not as if raw food isn't nutritious; it's just harder for the body to get at the nutrition.
Wrangham urges me to try some raw turnip. Not too bad, but hardly enough to get the juices flowing. "They've got a tremendous amount of caloric energy in them," he says. "The problem is that it's in the form of starch, which unless you cook it, does not give you very much."
Then there's all the chewing that raw food requires. Chimps, for example, sometimes chew for six hours a day. That actually consumes a lot of energy.
"Plato said if we were regular animals, you know, we wouldn't have time to write poetry," Wrangham jokes. "You know, he was right."
One way to save a lot of nutrients if you cook is to consume the water/broth as well as the veggies. This is why soups are so very healthy. In this case, the bath water can be just as important as the baby! ;-) -Eva
Recent studies have shown that more natural vitamins and antioxidants are absorbed from the digestive tract when vegetables are cooked than when they’re eaten raw. Why might this be? Vegetables are plants and plants are surrounded by a rather impervious cell wall that must be broken down to allow maximum absorption of healthy antioxidants, vitamins, and carotenoids that are so important for health. The heat used during the cooking process helps to break down this rather tough barrier so that healthy nutrients can be absorbed more readily.
Surprisingly enough, a recent study showed that less than 5% of the carotenoids in carrots are absorbed when they’re eaten in the uncooked form, whereas more than 15% of the carotenoids are absorbed after the application of heat during the cooking process. When it comes to raw versus cooked vegetables, it might appear that the cooked ones have the nutritional edge.
It is not black and white like this.
Cooking will decrease the bioavailability of some things, while decreasing others (calories derived, vitamin & mineral availability).
Cooking will also kill off many of the bacteria on your produce, some of which you may be interested to incorporate into your own gut bacteria (Ayers style).
Different methods have different effects too, searing and grilling are though to produce more carcinogens (paradoxically many people enjoy these flavors eg. maillard reaction). Steaming, boiling and poaching may produce less toxins and destroy less vitamins in some cases. Fermenting will also have varied effects.
If you simply want to make carrots easier to digest, a food processor is a good place to start.
Everyone has their own opinion on this subject. Some think cooked is best, other swear by raw. You'll never get a definitive answer. I personally don't think the difference nutritionally between cooked and raw veggies is large enough to make a big fuss over it. I depend on animal products for my nutrients anyway. Just eat what you like and don't worry about it.
If this is something you really want an answer to, experiment and find what works best for you. Go all raw or all cooked and see which is better. Or experiment with individual foods. If you eat a veggie raw and find it doesn't agree with you, try cooking it. And vice versa. Have fun with it.
I did this myself and found I don't tolerate fiber well, so I cook or ferment the veggies I eat to help break down the indigestible fiber. But my digestive system is screwed up and can hardly digest anything, so I'm not the best example.
My personal rule is if i can eat it raw then i eat it raw. i think we are just beginning to understand that we know very little about how complex biological systems are. its possible that many vitamins have yet to be discovered. Because of the unknowns in nutrition im taking a gamble and eating food as raw as possible. Remember man historically didnt cook anything. right now i cook only butternut squash and mushrooms. As for meats i eat all my egg yolks runny or raw. I'm training to eat pink steak with a little blood in the juice. i have to admit im liking food more now that im paleo. at first it was like i was stranded on a different planet, but slowly that planet is becoming home.