There are some food items that may taste better raw, or they may be better cooked.
When it comes to vegetables, it is easy to assume that consuming them raw is more beneficial and healthier for us since we’re not “taking away” the nutrition in them by heating them up.
But cooking isn’t just a way for us to make things fancy, per se. And not every raw vegetable is healthier than its cooked version.
Here Are 5 vegetables to eat raw & 5 You Should Cook!
Better Eaten Raw
Eat broccoli raw to get the most nutrition! One study states that cooking broccoli makes it lose nutritional and vitamin content, and this is because some nutrients in broccoli are water-soluble and decrease when exposed to heat and water.
But beware that some people have a hard time digesting raw broccoli. Consuming raw broccoli may lead to gastrointestinal issues and bloating. If you’re one of these people, steaming this vegetable for around 5 minutes will be enough for it to maintain a good amount of nutrients.
Closely related to the first item, cauliflower offers more sugar, thus making it taste sweeter compared to broccoli, and cauliflower surprisingly consists of over 90% water, so it contains fewer calories compared to its greener cousin.
As broccoli and cauliflower are closely related, the nutritional content in cauliflower also breaks down under high heat, and it also shares the same cons when consumed raw. Again, for those with sensitive stomachs, steaming lessens the chance of getting any gastrointestinal issues.
It may smell bad and will make your breath stink, but garlic is incredibly healthy when eaten raw. Eating raw garlic helps prevent cardiovascular diseases and helps improve immunity. In addition to having cardiovascular benefits, garlic also contains high amounts of antioxidants, vitamin B6, and vitamin C, to name a few.
Chomping on these bad boys isn’t for everyone, but they can be more easily enjoyed when crushed or pureed to make it go down easier. Pregnant and nursing women, stay away from garlic! It is said that eating too much garlic may induce labor in pregnant women, and it also has the ability to alter the taste of a nursing mother’s milk. Other than that, there’s not much issue with eating raw garlic, as long as you don’t consume too much.
Huge amounts of vitamin B and vitamin C are what eating raw kale gives you. Among the most nutritiously dense food on Earth, kale has a low calorie content, but it is an extremely vitamin-rich vegetable. It’s also very high in antioxidants, helps lower cholesterol, and contains numerous cancer-fighting substances. Superfood indeed!
But going back to our first food items, kale also causes bloating and may cause upset stomachs when consumed raw. Kale also has a bitter taste, but cooking it can lessen the bitterness. According to Healthline, cooking it unfortunately also significantly reduces its antioxidant, vitamin, and mineral content.
Like garlic, onions possess a pungent smell, and they’re able to make anyone cry. Onions are also incredibly versatile. There are some who eat raw onions like apples, and then there are those who eat raw onions via burgers. Yeah, burgers aren’t exactly healthy, but every little morsel counts (no, I’m not projecting, but this is what I tell myself actually).
Raw onion is also found to have the highest antioxidant activity, along with spinach and green bell peppers, and it’s full of B vitamins that help promote metabolism and energy production. Raw onions also contain sulfur compounds, which are also responsible for their smell and those unwanted tears, but those sulfur compounds may protect against cancer, lower your blood sugar, and help with cholesterol levels. Cooking onions gets rid of this super beneficial sulfur.
Better Eaten Cooked
What’s up, doc? Bunnies consume raw carrots, but carrots are more beneficial to humans when they’re cooked. Cooking your carrots will give you more antioxidants than if you eat them raw.
To get the most nutrients, boiling or steaming carrots preserves more of their antioxidants than frying them. In addition, cooking carrots also increases the number of vitamins that help with reproduction, immunity, and vision. It’s important to avoid deep frying this vegetable, as it actually gets rid of the beneficial nutrients that it has to offer.
Green beans contain lectins, which are proteins that are actually considered toxic. Humans are incapable of digesting this toxin, so it’s important to cook food items that have this protein. Lectins are the most potent in their raw state, but they’re fortunately easy to remove. As they’re water-soluble, cooking beans gets rid of this toxin, and it’s suggested that using high heat is essential in making sure that all lectins are removed.
Consuming green beans raw may trigger symptoms like nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, or bloating. As Healthline suggests, “you shouldn’t eat them raw.”
Mushrooms are a great source of antioxidants, potassium, and zinc. Though you can eat some mushrooms raw, it’s better and safer if you cook them first. There are so many ways to cook mushrooms, but grilling or even microwaving them is believed to promote antioxidant activity, while boiling or deep frying them can actually decrease it. For another option, a study suggests that pan-frying mushrooms can help consumers absorb more protein and carbs.
Like green beans, some types of mushrooms contain a toxin called chitin, which humans are incapable of digesting and thus blocks us from actually absorbing the nutrients in the mushrooms, or agaritine, which is believed to cause cancer.
Another familiar vegetable in the cartoon world, the vegetable which makes a certain sailor gain strength actually does help boost muscle function. Spinach contains a bunch of vitamins, and, when cooked, the amount of absorbable iron and calcium significantly increases.
Akin to lectins and chitin, spinach contains another compound called oxalate that blocks the absorption of calcium and iron when consumed raw. Cooking spinach under high heat effectively reduces this compound and makes eating it healthier. Another bonus to cooking spinach is that it makes it shrink, and this enables us to eat more of the vegetable.
Like most of the items on this list, tomatoes contain vitamins A and C that work as antioxidants. And it’s important to consider the color of the tomatoes you’re eating. The redder the tomato is, the more beta-carotene and lycopene it contains. Some studies suggest that consuming a large amount of lycopene helps lower the risk of cancer and heart attacks.
By cooking tomatoes, you enhance the amount of lycopene in them, because heat breaks down the thick walls that trap the nutrients in the vegetables. According to this study, the overall nutritional value of tomatoes increases when cooked, even though they lose some vitamin C.