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Just last week I was grazing away on some raw kale when it hit me:
“Is this really the best way to eat my vegetables?…Raw?”
I mean, it is very easy. Splash on some cold water and chew…
…but if I’m going to put myself through the grueling task of eating them…
Shouldn’t I eat them in a way that gives me the most bang for my buck?
Today, that’s our goal:
FIRST THINGS FIRST
Raw vegetables for the most part do contain more nutrients than their counterparts…
…but that’s not necessarily the answer we’re looking for is it?
After all, “it’s not what you eat, it’s what you absorb“, says Michael Greger, MD.
Exposing vegetables to heat will always lose you some nutrients, but it’ll also allow some other nutrients to be absorbed by your body.
In light of that, here are 2 lists that pinpoint the nutrients with the vegetables and how best to absorb those nutrients:
VEGETABLES BEST EATEN RAW
- BELL PEPPERS – Personally my favorite vegetable, bell peppers lose up to 75% of their antioxidants when cooked. Yikes!
- BROCCOLI – Known for its cancer-fighting compound sulforaphane, eating broccoli raw can increase said capacity three-fold.
- ONIONS – If you’re looking to protect against heart disease (as you should), definitely eat your garlic raw as this will preserve its antiplatelet agents.
- GARLIC – Similarly to broccoli, garlic contains anti-cancerous benefits, eating them raw will ensure the survival of its special sulfur compounds.
- KALE – Turns out eating kale raw is perfectly fine…just don’t overdo it. If you do, you’ll have some thyroid issues. Graze away!
VEGETABLES BEST EATEN COOKED
- SPINACH – Turns out, raw spinach contains oxalic acid which can hurt your body’s absorption of calcium and iron. Steaming reduces the oxalic acid content. As an avid raw spinach eater, this one hit close to home.
- ASPARAGUS – Cooking asparagus increases it’s antioxidant and cancer-fighting benefits by up to 25%. Furthermore, cooked asparagus may lower cancer rates due to the phenolic acid it contains.
- TOMATOES – Lycopene, found in tomatoes, is known for its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects, as well as lowering levels of cancer and heart attacks. Simply cooking tomatoes has been shown to boosts these effects.
- MUSHROOMS – It depends on the type of mushroom but what cooking will always do is remove any of the mild toxins they contain. I hate mushrooms.
- CARROTS – Known mostly for their ability to improve eyesight, cooking, pureeing and roasting carrots can greatly boost their antioxidant effects.
- BEANS (NOT ALL) – Beans do indeed make you gassy, however cooking them will remove this effect all together. Furthermore, studies have shown that cooking (or sprouting) beans may improve their anticancer effects.
Now comes the easy part, what’s the best way to cook your vegetables?
Boiling does the trick, but when it comes to preserving those precious nutrients, the gold medal will always belong to steaming.
But wait, boiling can still take the gold!
If you were to re-use the water in which you boiled those vegetables to cook some grains for example, then that gold medal could be yours.
But as always, let’s start with baby steps.
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