To cook or not to cook is a dilemma which many of you face while eating your fruits or vegetables. There are in fact two groups of people when it comes to eating: people who endorse raw food and people who claim about the healthy benefits of cooked food. Raw food junkies may talk about the health benefits of eating raw, while the other set of people may boast of the advantages of eating food which has been cooked. However, you must ask yourself do any of these claims (raw food Vs cooked food) hold any scientific value?
A study published in the British Journal of Nutrition, found that participants who followed the raw food diet had standard levels of Vitamin A and comparatively high levels of beta-carotene (an antioxidant, available mostly in dark green and yellow vegetables and fruits). However, they had low levels of lycopene (the red pigment found predominantly in tomatoes, red bell peppers and fruits like watermelon and papaya). This is testimony enough that there are some vegetables which are healthy when eaten raw, while there are other vegetables that have good health benefits when they are cooked.
Why cooked food is good for you:
- Cooking softens the cellulose in fibre or meat; thus helping our digestive system to process the food better.
- Cooking tomatoes are beneficial because they boost the availability of lycopene. The heat breaks down the plant cell wall to allow you to absorb the nutrients that are bound to the thick wall.
- Cooking carrots increases the level of beta carotene. The body converts beta carotene into vitamin A, which plays an important role in our vision, reproduction, bone growth and regulating the immune system.
- Other vegetables like spinach, cabbage, bell peppers, mushrooms, asparagus are very beneficial when cooked, as they are rich in antioxidants.
Cons of cooked food:
- There’s a possibility of losing vitamins (particularly Vitamin C) and minerals while cooking.
- Cooking can denature enzymes.
How raw food can help:
- Raw foods can have a higher level of vitamin A and beta carotene (Antioxidant).
Cons of raw food:
It lowers levels of the antioxidant, lycopene. Several studies conducted in the recent years have linked high intake of lycopene with lower risk of cancer and cardiovascular diseases.
There is a lot of debate regarding which is the best way to cook your food. A report in the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry stated that both boiling and steaming food will preserve the antioxidants better, particularly the carotenoids in broccoli and carrots. So, next time you reach out to cook those broccoli and carrots, remember to boil or steam them rather than frying.
Many of you will be aware that deep fried food is not good for our health, but how many of you know why? Well, when we fry the food, the oil is continuously being oxidised because it is being reheated at high temperatures. Deep fried foods are notorious sources of free radicals. These free radicals are highly reactive because they have at least one unpaired electron that can actually injure cells in the body.
Always remember that balancing between cooked food and raw food is the best option you can follow. Choose the middle ground and eat them both in equal harmony.
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