Raw Foods – Are They Really Better For You?

By  |  0 Comments

In my free time I love reading food blogs.  Such a great place for new recipe inspiration and ideas!  And lately I’ve been seeing a TON of raw foods and recipes.  Raw desserts.  Raw tomato sauce.  Raw pasta dishes.  Raw soup.  And even raw mac ‘n cheese!  Just about any food or dish you can imagine, there seem to be more and more raw versions of them. Raw food pyramid

So…what’s the deal with this new phenomenon?  I mean I love a nice salad or some raw veggies and fruit – don’t get me wrong – but to eat everything raw?  I’m not sure I could do that.  Now, I know there are changes that occur to foods during the cooking process – making nutrients, antioxidants and phytochemicals either more or less available to your body and it can change the concentration of nutrients in those foods.  But by how much?

steamedveg I needed to know!  What are the benefits of these new raw diets?  Are uncooked foods really that much higher in nutrients?  Let’s take a look at some food chemistry facts:

  • Vitamin C and the B Vitamins are the most delicate nutrients found in produce.  The longer the fruit or veggie has been on the shelf (in store or at home) the less Vitamin C it contains.  The B Vitamin group follow suit in addition to being easily destroyed by temperature and the acidity of foods.
  • Frozen produce often has MORE Vitamin C and B Vitamins than fresh because these items are flash frozen at the peak of freshness – saving all their nutrient goodness.
  • Microwaving vegetables, compared to steaming or boiling, also showed an INCREASED retention of Vitamin C in produce.
  • Tomatoes show an increased bioavailability of the antioxidant lycopene AFTER they’ve been cooked.
  • Fat soluble nutrients, like Vitamins A, D, E and K fare pretty well during steaming and boiling, therefore leaving the produce with a good amount of these nutrients.

After reviewing a few studies, it seems like some fruits and vegetables have increased amounts of one antioxidant or another when raw and then decreased amounts of it when cooked.  Basically, it’s a tradeoff.

As long as you adhere to healthy cooking techniques (see this post!), no one cooking method is truly better than another.  Plus, most of us do eat a combination of raw AND cooked produce (right?) allowing us to get a variety of nutrients in each day.  And really…the BEST source of nutrients is the fruit or vegetable you’re actually going to eat.  So if you’re only down for cooked veggies, then eat ’em cooked!

Sources:
Effects of Different Cooking Methods on Nutritional and Physicochemical Characteristics of Selected Vegetables” The Journal of Agriculture & Food Chemistry.

Hey, thanks for reading! Share your thoughts!