It is a widely-held belief that cooking veggies for too long kills the vitamins and minerals and makes them worthless in terms of nutritional value. Raw foodies are forever telling us how healthy they are from eating their food uncooked. But a 2014 study found that not all vegetables are healthier raw. Some give more nutritional value when cooked.
The British Journal of Nutrition studied a group of 198 raw foodies who followed a strict raw food diet. At the end of it, they found these people had normal levels of vitamin A and relatively high levels of beta-carotene (an antioxidant found in dark green and yellow fruits and vegetables), however, they also had low levels of the antioxidant lycopene.
What is Lycopene?
This antioxidant is the one is the one which makes your food look red and juicy. It is a red pigment found mostly in tomatoes, watermelon, pink guava, red bell pepper and papaya. It has been shown by a number of established and respected bodies such as Harvard Medical School, that a high intake of Lycopene lowers the risk of cancer and heart attacks. In fact, Rui Hai Liu, an associate professor of food science at Cornell University who has researched lycopene, said that it may be an even more potent antioxidant than vitamin C.
In Rui’s 2002 study which was published in the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry)he found that cooking veggies high in Lycopene actually boosts the amount of antioxidant in tomatoes by up to 35 percent after they are cooked for 30 minutes at 190.4 degrees Fahrenheit (88 degrees Celsius). The reason, he says is that ‘the heat breaks down the plants’ thick cell walls and aids the body’s uptake of some nutrients that are bound to those cell walls.’
The same goes for cooking carrots, spinach, mushrooms, asparagus, cabbage, peppers and many other vegetables, according to Rui. They all give the body more antioxidants when they are cooked (boiled or steamed) than they do when raw. Cooking carrots increases their level of beta-carotene. Beta-carotene belongs to a group of antioxidant substances called carotenoids, which give fruits and vegetables their red, yellow, and orange colourings. The body converts beta-carotene into vitamin A, which plays an important role in vision, reproduction, bone growth and regulating the immune system.
adapted from Scientific American
photo credit: The Nutritionist