Studies on relative benefits of cooked and raw vegetables will surprise you
Vegetables are the most nutritional foods for optimum health benefits. Vegetables in various form should be part of a daily healthy meal. A healthy meal should contain at least, 80% of plant-based items with only 20% of animal protein, that is, if desired, but not necessary.
However, if you are using animal protein, it should be slow-cooked under low heat. Avoid deep-frying because of excess oil, unless of course, you are using an air fryer.
We have this idea that vegetables will lose their nutrients when cooked. This is not true for all vegetables. In fact, some vegetables do increase their nutrients with heat, although gentle heating is advised. It is, however, a known fact that vegetables that are over-cooked can turn into a shaft, devoid of nutrition. All water-soluble vitamins in vegetables dissolve rather too quickly if cooked for too long, so it is best to drink the water or use it to prepare sauces if this happens. Vegetables should be eaten crunchy to preserve the phytonutrients, minerals and the vitamins present in them.
There are some fruits that people classify as vegetables and are treated as such, that is cooked. A good example of this is courgette, and it’s family cucumber, which is actually fruits but treated as vegetables.
Vegetables and fruits should be taken in its whole form to benefit from its healing properties. Also eating freshly uncooked or with minimal heat of fruits and vegetables is what gives the optimal health benefits.
Cooking on a stovetop is advised, not microwave. Animal protein especially should be slow-cooked on a stove until tender.
If possible, eat organic vegetables and fruits always.
Juicing and Smoothie are getting more and more attention these days. This is because people believe it is easier and tastier to consume raw vegetables and fruits as juiced rather than to eat, especially if blended with coconut, as this can sweeten the juice naturally. Juicing also provides the opportunity to mix several fruits and raw vegetables together, which naturopathy physicians do recommend for treating chronic diseases because both have natural healing properties.
Both fruits and vegetables have natural healing properties.
The only concern about juicing and smoothie is the need to wash very well to get rid of bacteria, specks of dirt and viruses that result from exposure and transportation to the retail outlets.
Asparagus —COOKED — are pure vegetables, and are varied in colours of white, green and purple. Asparagus is cooked gently in minimal water, under low heat to preserve the crunchiness. Asparagus is rich in Vitamin A & C, potassium, calcium and folate.
Broccoli/Cauliflower/Brussel Sprouts/Cabbage— COOKED — These are a group of the cruciferous family which cleanses and remove toxins from the body. They are best steamed with low heat and minimal water. Rich in anti-oxidants which fortify the body defence against chronic diseases, hence the family is classified as a nutritional powerhouse. They are rich in Vitamin K and Sulforaphane which is powerful defence against cancer.
High heat does destroy the nutrients in some cruciferous vegetables especially Brussel Sprouts, Kale and Bell Peppers. Other vegetables in the cruciferous category are pakchoi and garden cress.
Depending on the person, eating a lot of cruciferous vegetables can sometimes result in gas and bloating because of the high fibre contents.
Courgette/Cucumber — BEST RAW — are of the same family of fruits, but people assume are vegetables, and treat them as such. However, they are best eaten raw and are great additions to salads when sliced thinly. If you decide to cook, as most people do courgettes, they should be cooked gently with low heat and minimal water for not more than two minutes to preserve the nutrients. Courgette is rich in potassium, Vitamin C & B-6.
Garlic /Shallot/Leek/Onion—BEST RAW — better eaten raw to gain advantages of anti-oxidants, which is mainly selenium it. The best way to eat garlic is to dice and sprinkle into your meal.
The bad breath, unfortunately, can put people off you. The garlic cloves should be diced about three to ten minutes and left on the plate before eating. This is to allow the allicin to properly develop before eating. Allicin takes time to convert to the smaller sulfur compound that is beneficial to the body. Research indicates its high anti-cancer properties in garlic is destroyed by heat.
Garlic, like its family onions, leek, shallot and spring onion should be eaten raw, or at worst stir-fry. These vegetables are packed with sulphur, which together with the phytonutrients is lost under high heat.
Tomatoes/Aubergine —COOKED — needs cooking to take advantage of the lycopene present in it. Lycopene is a great protector of heart disease and some form of cancer. Tomato is another fruit that is treated as a vegetable. These vegetables are called nightshades because they can trigger an allergy in some people. These vegetables are rich in folate, magnesium, beta-carotene,(which converts to vitamin A when consumed), K, C, E and some B vitamins.
Carrots — COOKED — are rich in carotenoids which are great protection for the eyes and some cancers. Cooking carrots gently make it easier for the body to digest. Carrots are a great source of beta carotene, vitamin K, potassium and of course as in most vegetables some fibres.
Like its counterpart Ginger and Tumeric releases beta-carotene, an antioxidant that is converted to Vitamin A when ingested.
Mushrooms — BOTH RAW & COOKED — are rich in fibre and can both be taken in both raw state and gentle steaming. Mushrooms contain several trace elements and vitamins as well as dietary fibres.
Sweet Potatoes/Potatoes —BEST BAKED — are best baked leaving the skin on, as this seals on the nutrients. Sweet potatoes are rich in fibres, vitamins A & C, Calcium and Magnesium. If you are cooking, gentle steaming with minimal water is fine.
Spinach —BEST RAW- -is very delicate, so better eaten raw to take full advantage of the lutein. Lutein helps to protect vision. The best way is to add to salad or smoothie. Spinach can also be stir-fried, but should not be more than two minutes.
In all leafy green vegetables, the darker the better, as darker ones have more nutrients. Kale & Spinach have ten times more immune-boosting vitamins A & C than Iceberg lettuce.
On the final note, it is wrong to assume that because you are eating a lot of fruits and vegetables, you are eating healthily. This will depend on what you eat them with. Eating your greens with extra calories, fat, sodium and sugar as found in creamy dressings is not healthy. Even the so-called fat-free dressings usually have extra sugar and sodium to compensate for flavour.
You have to remember that not all fat is bad. The body needs fat to metabolise some vitamins like A, D, E & K. Avoid croutons and cheese, but nuts and seeds are good as additions.
The best way is to prepare your sauces and dressings yourself. You know what you are eating. Avocado and black bean are good additions to your dressings or sauces.
Variety, people say is the spice of life. Eat your fruits and vegetables in their season, if you can, as you take in more nutrients when they are at their season. There is a reason nature makes them to grow out in a different season. Eat as varied as possible, and as fresh as possible. Dried or canned fruits and vegetables are not the same as fresh ones. Frozen ones are good as well, as most are frozen at source and immediately after harvesting, so nutritional contents are preserved.