Cooked vs. Raw: How should you eat your veggies?

Are vegetables more nutritious when eaten as they are, or once they’ve been cooked? This is a long-running debate amongst nutritionists worldwide. Those who say ‘raw is best’ argue that cooking destroys much of the nutrition content the vegetables contain, and that the only way to ensure you get the full benefit of your veggies is to eat them raw. Most of the time, cooking vegetables makes little difference to the nutritional value they provide your body. In some cases, however, the opposite is true - cooking makes these vegetables can make them even healthier:

1) Spinach Spinach is packed full of important nutrients, including: Iron, protein, vitamin B6, calcium and potassium. All this healthy goodness means spinach has a range of health benefits for your entire body, no wonder Popeye ate so much of it! The reason spinach is better for you when cooked is simply: Because the leaves wilt when cooked and simmer down to almost nothing, you are likely to eat far more spinach when you cook it. More spinach means more nutrients and you really can’t have too much of them!

2) Tomatoes Cooked tomatoes are everywhere! They’re in ketchup, in sauces and in tomato paste, so you probably already eat a lot of cooked tomatoes. The great news is that tomatoes are healthier in this form than when eaten raw. The powerful anti-oxidant ‘lycopene’ is found in tomatoes, but your body is only able to properly absorb it when the tomato has been cooked. Lycopene works in your body to repair damage caused by disease and then boost your protection against future disease, so enjoying your tomatoes cooked, rather than raw, could be super valuable for your long-term health!

3) Pumpkins Most of us will only eat pumpkins once a year, and even then, it’s usually just so that we can hollow out the vegetable and make a scary jack-o-lantern. But there’s good reason why pumpkin shouldn’t just be a once-annual part of your diet. Like the tomato, pumpkins are rich in powerful anti-oxidants, including beta-carotene (The nutrient also found in carrots that is said to boost your vision). These anti-oxidants are most easily absorbed by the body when cooked. To give your diet a boost, be sure to cook and enjoy pumpkin more regularly. It’ll be like it’s Halloween every day, only without the scary costumes and unhealthy candy of course!

4) Asparagus Like pumpkin, asparagus is another veggie that needs to be eaten cooked for your body to get the best of its nutritious content. Asparagus is crammed with vitamins A, C and E amongst many others, and these essential vitamins are vital in helping the body fight serious illness, including certain cancers! The asparagus has thick, strong, fibrous cells, and these are broken down through the cooking process, allowing the nutrients within to burst out and give your body a boost!

And the ones you shouldn’t cook? Most veggies are just great both cooked and raw, but these vegetables are best enjoyed as they are if you want the best nutrition they can provide: Broccoli Cauliflower Bell Peppers Celery Watercress