Cooked vs. Raw Vegetables: Which is better?

Vegetables are important to include as part of a healthy diet. They contain essential nutrients for the maintenance of your body. A diet high in vegetable intake may protect against diseases, improve blood pressure & help maintain a healthy weight. 

There have been numerous discussions on how to prepare vegetables to maximize the nutritional value. Specific nutrients may be enhanced when cooked but does the opposite in another. There is no single answer - it really depends on the vegetable. From broccoli to carrots, here's how to ensure you reap the benefits from each vegetable you prepare. 

Better raw:
1. Beets - preserves folate, essential for brain function
2. Broccoli - preserves an enzyme that helps clean your liver
3. Spinach - retains folate (Vitamin B9) content
4. Bell Pepper - contains 3x the amount of vitamin C of an orange, eating it raw retains this immune-boosting antioxidant 

These vegetables eaten raw are all great choices to include in a salad or to dip into hummus, tzatziki or homemade dips! 

Better cooked: 
1. Asparagus - ignites cancer-fighting benefits 
2. Tomatoes - increased lycopene content 
3. Carrots - levels of beta-carotone increases; functions of reproduction, immunity and vision.
4. Mushrooms - brings out Potassium levels, for muscle-building 

Cooking vegetables can make the cell walls less rigid, enhancing absorption and digestion of vitamins and minerals. The best options of preparation is to roast, steam, blanch, sauté or grill. Avoid boiling to retain the most water-soluble Vitamins B and C. It is best to cook at a high heat for the least amount of time, retaining desired textures and flavors. 

When raw vegetables are picked, they will being losing their nutrients. It is best to purchase just enough to store in your refrigerator for the next several days. It is best to purchase product locally and in-season for higher quality, enhanced taste and increased nutritional value.

However, it is not bad to cook your broccoli or eat tomatoes raw. Either way, vegetables are packed with antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and fiber which sustain a healthy body. It is recommended to fill half of your plate at each meal with fruits and vegetables. Change up the different colors of vegetables you eat to ensure you get a variety of all vitamins and minerals in your diet. 

 

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