Vegetables, like fruits, are low in calories and fats. They are a rich source of
- fat-soluble and water-soluble vitamins,
- minerals like calcium, magnesium, potassium, iron,
- many antioxidants
- soluble and insoluble fiber
You can eat some vegetables raw while some just have to be cooked. For example, most of us will not like to eat a raw cauliflower but a carrot or a tomato you can eat raw.
The important thing is to eat more vegetables in a way so that you get the nutritional power and benefits of the vitamins, minerals, fiber, and antioxidants that these veggies pack. Furthermore, you will eat them more if your taste buds enjoy them.
The funda, therefore, is to eat the vegetables as you like them. The U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends that you fill half your plate with vegetables (and fruits) to get the recommended servings per day.
Therefore, eat those vegetables that you enjoy raw while cooking those which you enjoy cooked. However, cook them in a way, which prevents the least loss of nutrients.
There are arguments to advocate both the sides. That is because cooking potentiates the nutrition in some vegetables and degrades in others.
It is a fact that some nutrients are sensitive to heat, and cooking can destroy them. However, it is also a fact that some nutrients are bound to the plant cell matrix and are released by heat, which makes it easier for the body to absorb them.
According to a 2010 study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, people who followed a raw vegetable diet consumed more beta-carotene. But, the people who ate the vegetables cooked absorbed more of this vital antioxidant.
Similarly, cooking the vegetables gives your body more of other antioxidants, such as lutein and lycopene. The former is good for your eyes and the later protects your heart and bones from disease.
People on a raw vegan diet lose out on their health gain and exhibit frequent fungal skin infection, hair loss, muscular wasting, and poor dental health. This could be because raw vegetable nutrients are hard to digest.
It is necessary, therefore, to cook the veggies in a way, which prevents the least loss of nutrients. Cooking methods, which require little heat and less time, are generally considered healthy cooking methods. Less heat and less cooking time ensure a minimal nutrient loss.
Most vegetables are low in calories and fats and almost zero in cholesterol but they are rich sources of vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Some of these nutrients are water-soluble while some are fat-soluble.
They also contain antioxidants, which improve your immunity and help to prevent cancer, heart diseases and more. Taking your daily abundant dose of vegetables, therefore, is mandatory.
How should you eat your vegetables? Raw or cooked?
You could eat some vegetables raw in the form of salads to satisfy your taste buds. Onions, cucumber, tomatoes, carrots, shredded cabbage, sliced red pepper, beets, and some greens are some of the veggies, which you can eat in the form of salads. Alternatively, you can cook them also.
You can eat other vegetables cooked by following healthy cooking methods. You could also alternate the various cooking methods to cook your vegetables.
Steam, roast or grill so that you do not sacrifice the nutritional value. These cooking habits will give you the maximum benefits of the nutrition packed in the vegetables.
And, yes one more thing – always buy fresh vegetables because once picked, the synthesis of vitamins in the veggies stops and there is significant nutrition loss with time. When you have to store the veggies, keep them in the fridge in a plastic bag, which is open or has holes in it.
Some vegetables you should not eat raw
- Many people eat raw Kale without experiencing problems. However, some people can experience negative problems. Eating cruciferous vegetables like kale raw can disrupt the synthesis of thyroid hormones, which could adversely affect your metabolism. When you steam Kale, it improves its ability to bind bile acid and thereby lower your cholesterol.
- Though you can eat raw tomatoes because they pack some perks, it is advisable to eat tomatoes cooked because cooking releases lycopene, an anti-cancer antioxidant, which helps to prevent cancer. Heating weakens the tougher cell walls making it easier for the body to absorb the nutrients from the plant cells.
- In carrots and spinach, too, heat facilitates the release of antioxidants by breaking down cell walls and providing an easier passage of the antioxidants from the food into the body. Steaming carrots helps in the release of carotenoids, an all-important antioxidant.
- Kidney beans need to be soaked in water and then boiled. According to The Independent, eating raw uncanned kidney beans exposes your body to a toxin called haemagglutinin, which causes severe vomiting and diarrhea.
- According to Scientific American, you should always eat cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage cooked because cooking helps them release indole, an organic compound that can fight off precancerous cells. Raw cruciferous vegetables cause digestive problems.
- Bell peppers are a rich source of lycopene and ferulic acid. Roasting and stir-frying them at low heat will release these antioxidant nutrients for your body to use.
- Other vegetables that pack extra health benefits when cooked include spinach, mushrooms, and cabbage.
To sum up:
Eat vegetables every day. Eat them as you like them so that you keep eating them. But, as mentioned above, you should cook some to get the maximum health benefits. And, cook them in a way that retains their maximum nutrition – minimize the cooking time and the water used. Just don’t bread or deep fry them.