Raw Vs. Cooked: 5 Veggies Better Cooked

March 12, 2014

Raw vegetables are all the rage, but did you know that there are some veggies that are even more nutritious when cooked? Find out five veggies you need to eat cooked here...

Raw vegetables are all the rage, higher in enzymes, vitamin C, some B vitamins and more, but did you know that some vegetables are better absorbed, assimilated and more nutritious after being cooked? Cooking helps us digest food without expending huge amounts of energy. It softens food, such as cellulose fiber, that our teeth and digestive systems aren't equipped to handle, according to Scientific American.

Here are five vegetables that are better for you, cooked than raw.

Tomatoes are an excellent source of lycopene and a Cornell study found that cooking actually boosts the amount of lycopene in tomatoes- a whopping 35 percent! So use tomato sauce liberally! Lycopene is an antioxidant whose intake has been linked to lower risk of cancer and heart attacks.

Cooking carrots increases their level of beta-carotene – the body converts beta-carotene into Vitamin A, which promotes eye health, good reproductive health and immunity. Choose blanching or steaming which was found to better preserves antioxidants, especially the carotenoids.

Broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage, the crucifers. When these veggies are cooked, indole, which helps kill cancerous cells, is formed. Soups are the best source of vitamins, minerals and other compounds like indole, that are water soluble and present in the broth. Cruciferous vegetables, also release compounds when chopped or chewed that researchers believe activate detoxifying enzymes in the liver. In turn, these enzymes may neutralize free radicals, thereby reducing the risk of breast, ovarian, colon and other cancers as well as general inflammation in the body.

Mushrooms are better cooked, you can eat more (as they loose their water content), and they have more calcium, iron, zinc and antioxidants available to the body when cooked. They also are a source of vitamin D, a fat soluble vitamin that when cooked with a little healthy oil, is better absorbed than when raw and plain. Mushrooms are great for the immune system.

Winter Squash is more manageable when cooked and the nutrients are even better retained when baked. The bright orange flesh of winter squash are high in vitamin A (as beta carotene) and excellent for lung, eye and skin health, as well as the immune system.

Keep in mind that there is a delicate balance here, overcooking can destroys the vitamins present in the vegetables, for instance vitamin C is very heat sensitive and cooking can greatly deplete it. It's also good to have a mix of cooked and raw - balance is key!