Much controversy seems to swirl around vegetables these days. Are they more nutritious right out of the ground or off the vine, in their pristine, raw state, or are they better cooked which may release certain enzymes that benefit the consumer in ways he knows and knows not?
RAW foodies say raw is best. But not everyone’s digestive system can adapt. There’s a woman on the speaking circuit that swears by and preaches RAW. Just looking at her—almost 60, she appears no more than 40—and immediately everyone’s on board to eat RAW, at least in theory. This woman has vitality up the ying-yang. Her complexion has a moist, translucent glow. She doesn’t carry an ounce of extra fat. When you hear her speak, you know at least for that moment you’re on board, you’re going RAW.
Then, you read that article that says some foods have to be cooked to release valuable vitamins and minerals. So, how do you know?
Thank God for bloggers who contemplate these very things and write about them so we all can benefit. Squidoo.com weighs the RAW against cooked in a recent article, and presents the following:
Carrots – “It has been found that cooking carrots actually increases the level of beta-carotene. The reason being, raw carrots have tough cellular walls and cooking breaks down those walls to free up nutrients in the body. An experiment carried out at the Institute of Food Research in 2009 showed that the body can absorb about 5% of the beta carotene from a single carrot, whereas if it’s boiled, the carrot releases 60%. Same goes for zucchini and broccoli.”
We notice our cooks at GreenAcres prepare lots of carrots, zucchini and broccoli—almost daily—always cooked.
Tomatoes – “Tomatoes are a good source of lycopene, the phytonutrient which gives the tomato its red color and also its antioxidant power. A report in Scientific American suggests that simply cooking the tomato will increase the antioxidant power of lycopene. Heating changes the chemical structure of lycopene to make it more bioavailable. Studies have shown the lycopene has antibacterial and antifungal properties that help reduce inflammation and fight infections and cancer.” And we all know that inflammation is the culprit behind most—maybe all—disease in the body.
But wait! Here’s what the RAW foodies say about all that: Veggies are packed with enzymes, and cooking drains those away. Without enzymes, vitamins and minerals are ineffective—they actually require enzymes to do their duty and reach their mark.
Enzymes can’t survive past a certain cooking temp of approximately 115 degrees F. Most cooked veggies are heated at much higher temps. RAW enthusiasts say that Vitamins C and B are among the first to go in cooking. Raw veggies retain chlorophyll, lutein and indoles which help fight unhealthy cells. Some raw foods are high in carotenoids which are high in antioxidants which support cardiovascular and immune health, and polyphenols which support cardiovascular health. Sooooo, where does that leave us? Betwixt and between.
We go back to Squidoo for more info and here’s what he says:
“If you’re going to eat raw, then eat vegetables that are freshly picked. There is a significant loss in the nutrient value of raw vegetables that have been picked too long before being eaten.
- Chew your raw vegetables well, at least 20 times per bite.
- Make a raw vegetable smoothie. You are able to consume several types of raw vegetables at one time in an easy-to-drink smoothie.
- Food poisoning due to contaminated raw foods has increased since the 1970s. Some of the foods that have led to these outbreaks include salads, sprouts, melons and berries. In May 2011, an outbreak of E.coli caused thousands in Europe to be sick. The contamination was traced back to an organic farm in Germany producing a variety of sprouted foods.”
Well, we may never settle this argument. Some of us prefer to take the middle road: Eat plenty of raw veggies and salads, while enjoying plenty of digestible cooked vegetables. As long as we are persistent in eating a diet high in protein, vegetables, fruits and nuts, we can’t go too wrong.
When in doubt, we invite you to dine with us every day of the week our GreenAcres Markets that have delis, where we serve the best organic, non-GMO produce, grass fed meat, sustainable fish and organic fruits anywhere. And we make everything from scratch using Organic Valley butter, cheese, milk and cream. We truly believe “you can have it RAW or cooked…and eat it too!” Bon appetite!