Many clients ask me about the raw vs. cooked debate, and while I can go on at great length (mainly because I love talking about food), my answer is usually, “It depends.” I generally feel that cooked foods have gotten a bad rap over the years. It’s true that some delicate enzymes and antioxidants can get destroyed during the cooking process, but in many cases, cooking our food supports digestion and breaks down the tough cell walls of fruits and vegetables, allowing the heat stable antioxidants and vitamins more available to the body.
So rather than solely relying on your green smoothie and kale salad to get your daily dose of vitamins and antioxidants, here are three foods that you can enjoy cooked.
Raw foodies and endurance junkies will be happy to know that Mo Farah, the gold medal winner at the London Olympics drank beet juice (instead of sugar-laden Gatorade) before his races. Raw beet juice is great, but there are also benefits to roasting, steaming or baking your beets, such as:
- Absorption of boron, also known as nature’s Viagra (need I say more?)
- Absorption of betacyanin, the cancer-fighting photochemical that’s also responsible for the beautiful dark purple colour of the beet
And don’t forget to sauté those beet greens – they are high in calcium, iron and folic acid, great for everyone but especially females looking to support pregnancy.
Author Jo Robinson claims that, “The longer you cook a tomato, the more healthful it gets.” Studies have shown that after 30 minutes of cooking a tomato (think of a delicious, homemade pasta sauce), the lycopene content doubles. What is lycopene, and why should you care? Lycopene is a powerful free-radical fighter that supports our health by:
- Preventing prostate cancer, breast cancer and other cancers
- Lowering the risk of heart disease
Want the most bang-for-your-antioxidant-buck? Look for the brightest red tomatoes you can find at your local market (more pigment = more nutrition) and cook them up.
Did your Grandma ever tell you that if you ate all the carrots on your plate you would be able to see in the dark? Well, Grandma wasn’t lying. Cooked carrots have a ton of health benefits that not only support your eyesight, but research also shows that:
- One carrot a day helps to keep lung cancer at bay, thanks to the vitamins, minerals and antioxidants found in this root vegetable
- Along with vitamin C and Vitamin A, carrots also contain biotin, great for anyone – male or female – looking for a full head of thick, shiny hair
Try adding some kind of healthy fat like Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Virgin Coconut Oil, Grass Fed Butter or Ghee, as these will increase carrots’ cancer fighting Beta Carotene even more.
My advice to you is to avoid extremes when it comes to eating your veggies. Over the years, modern science and traditional practices have taught us about which foods are better enjoyed cooked, and others that are best eaten raw. So mix it up, enjoy your food and, most of all, just get those veggies in your diet.