These days, it seems everyone is interested in checking out the latest superfood or miracle plant, which is great. Yet, let’s not forget that most typical vegetables are very nutrient dense. Most stack up to superfood status, especially if you know how to get the most nutrients out of them. Truthfully, sometimes it’s as simple as knowing when to cook a vegetable, and when to eat it raw.
“Some produce is most nutritious uncooked, while other kinds need heat to bring out the best in them.” ~ Dawn Jackson Blatner, RD, a registered dietitian and author of The Superfood Swap
Cooking has a different effect on different plants. For some vegetables, it breaks down certain parts of the vegetable, such as the cell walls. This aids in the body’s update of the nutrients bound in those parts. Other times, it allows us to more easily digest the plant. Here’s a list of vegetables that you should cook to get the most nutrition out of them. As well, I’ve listed three veggies that are most often cooked but are really beneficial when eaten raw.
Cook These Vegetables to Get the Most Nutrition
Cooking tomatoes boosts their lycopene content. Studies have linked high intake of lycopene with a lower risk of cancer and heart attack. Lycopene can be an even more potent antioxidant than vitamin C.
Cooking carrots supplies more antioxidants, such as carotenoids and ferulic acid, to the body. It also increases their beta-carotene content. The body converts beta-carotene into vitamin A, which plays an important role in vision, reproduction, bone growth and regulating the immune system.
Cooking mushrooms will bring out more of their antioxidants and potassium. This is great for fighting off disease and keeping your muscles healthy.
Cooking spinach supplies more antioxidants to the body. You will also absorb more calcium, iron, and magnesium from cooked spinach. Finally, it is easier to eat more spinach when you cook it. As a result, you will be eating more nutrients, such as folate and protein, with much less chewing!
Cooking asparagus breaks down its tough-to-digest walls. This means you can absorb more antioxidants and Vitamins A, C and E.
Keep in mind that deep frying foods does not count as cooking! Nutritionists warn that deep fried foods are full of free radicals, which can injure cells in the body.
Eat These Vegetables Raw for Most Nutrition
Beets folate supply will decrease when you cook them. Thus, consider adding raw, shredded beets to your salad or smoothie. If you bake them, do not overbake.
Cooking broccoli (and other crucifers like cabbage and cauliflower) will reduce the effectiveness of the enzyme myrosinase. This enzyme helps clean your liver and protects cells from toxins. Raw broccoli also has more protein per serving. Regardless, most of us cook broccoli, so make sure you only steam it for a few minutes. It should retain its bright green color.
Eating raw onions is very beneficial and allows for higher absorption of phytonutrients. Raw onions also have higher levels of organic sulfur compounds, which many scientists believe can minimize cancer risk. Keep in mind, though, that you shouldn’t stop cooking your onions. Not only are they delicious cooked, they also help inhibit the formation of dietary carcinogens that may arise during the cooking process, especially when cooking meat. So, keep adding chopped onions to the meat of your burger patties!
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Disclaimer: This article is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Moreover, views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of Awareness Junkie or its staff.