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There is an ever growing movement of people swearing by a raw diet, claiming the increased health benefits. Are they really on to something?
Researchers compared a raw only diet and the diet of those eating cooked vegetables – those on the raw vegetables had normal levels of Vitamin A, high levels of beta-carotene although the intake of Vitamin C was fairly consistent.

Some claims that the cooking process rids the vegetables of their vitamins and nutrients are only partly correct. Cooking can destroy Vitamin C levels but only slightly if cooked quickly. Boiling and steaming the vegetables can better preserve the antioxidants of the food.

Carrots, mushrooms, asparagus, cabbage, capsicum and spinach actually supply more antioxidants like carotenoids and ferulic acid when they are cooked. Cooking tomatoes boosts their lycopene which is a powerful antioxidant attributed to protecting the body from degenerative diseases.
So which vegetables should you eat while raw and which should be eaten cooked for better nutrition? Let me give you a few examples and see what you think.

Raw carrots supply polyphenols, antioxidants said to reduce the risk of heart disease and cancer, as well as Vitamin C.
Cooking carrots destroys the polyphenols and drastically reduces the amount of Vitamin C but, the cooking process will provide more of the antioxidant beta-carotene which converts into Vitamin A.

Raw broccoli contains the enzyme myrosinase which can reduce the risk of cancer and stomach ulcers. This enzyme is destroyed in cooking.
Cooked broccoli though forms the compound indole within the food which fights precancerous cells, attacking them before they can turn malignant. This is something the raw broccoli doesn’t have.

And so on and so on through the list of vegetables. Confused yet? I think what we can all take from these examples is that a combination of both raw and cooked vegetables. Just remember that when you do cook your vegetables – steaming is most often the best way to go to retain as many nutrients and vitamins as possible and cook for the shortest time possible. A high cooking temperature and long cooking time leads to the greatest loss of Vitamin B, Vitamin C and folate. Microwaving and baking lead to the least nutrient and vitamin loss while boiling and pressure-cooking lead to the most loss.

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