What’s the best way to eat fruits and veggies to get the most out of their beneficial vitamins and nutrients? While cooking food can improve the taste, heating food can lower some of the nutritional content – but are there other benefits?
Raw foods are straight from nature – pure fruits and vegetables that have not been cooked, heated, or processed in any way. A perfect example is an organic apple or organic banana eaten as a midafternoon snack. Raw food diets such as recommended in the Biofield Diet Plan emphasize eating at least 30 to 70% raw foods in your total diet. Advocates of eating raw foods claim that raw foods are more nutritious because the process of cooking foods can degrade the active enzymes of the food. Those very same enzymes help us to break down and absorb the nutrients found in food. Raw food advocates point to this enzyme degradation as a key point for promoting a diet high in raw foods, since inactivating the natural enzymes in fruits and veggies prevents the full absorption of available vitamins and nutrients.
In contrast, cooking food appears to make some nutrients more bioavailable. Fat-soluble vitamins such as vitamin A, D, E, and K and antioxidant compounds called carotenoids are not dramatically impacted by cooking, steaming, or stir-frying fruits and veggies (as long as the temperature does not go above boiling). Additionally, beloved antioxidants such as beta-carotene, lycopene (an antioxidant that is associated with a lower risk of heart disease), and lutein can become more available when they are cooked.
One study discovered that when tomatoes were cooked, their vitamin C content was reduced by 29%. However, their lycopene content more than doubled within 30 minutes of cooking. The overall antioxidant content of the tomatoes increased by over 60%. Cooking foods may also kill any potentially harmful bacteria that can cause food-borne illnesses, although most fruits and vegetables are generally safe if they are washed before being consumed.
You might find that eating raw foods makes you feel bloated, or that a raw-food diet is difficult to follow. Additionally, some common foods may contain dangerous bacteria and microorganisms that can only be eliminated by cooking them. On the flip side, cooking fruits and vegetables can potentially decrease their vitamin and nutrient content as well as the digestive enzymes that help your system to break that food down.
The bottom line? However they are consumed, cooked or raw, fruits and vegetables (especially organic), are much healthier for you than processed or ultra-processed foods containing white sugar, white flour, or harmful preservatives and additives (such as white-flour pastas, hamburgers, or dairy-loaded ice cream). Instead, fill your diet with fresh, organic fruits and vegetables with some in both a raw and cooked state – you'll appreciate your happy, healthier body!