Contributing Monkie Sarah Backhouse
Published on February 11, 2009
After successfully completing my 30-day plant-based experiment, the masochist inside me was whispering: “go Raw”. Sure, there’s nothing like a crunchy sugar snap, ripe avocado or a bowl full of arugula drizzled with olive oil balsamic. How hard could it be?
On the hard side, if you ask me.
I know I’d miss steamed Brussels sprouts, lightly blanched asparagus, roasted pumpkin — or in fact, any warm vegetable. So, imagine my delight when recent studies supported my gut instinct (or lack of guts, depending how you look at it): that there are health advantages to eating a combination of raw and cooked vegetables.
We know that eating enzyme-packed raw vegetables are good for us. However, studies reveal that more natural vitamins and minerals are actually absorbed by the body when vegetables are cooked. This is because cooking helps break down the “impervious” cell wall, which in turn allows maximum absorption of antioxidants, vitamins and carotenoids. For example, research reveals that “less than 5% of the carotenoids in carrots are absorbed when they’re eaten in the uncooked form, whereas more then 15% are absorbed after the application of heat from the cooking process.”
But the raw versus cooked veggie debate is not that black and white. Or orange and green, for that matter. Consider this: “An important cancer fighting enzyme called myrosinase is destroyed when broccoli is steamed, while another important cancer preventative enzyme called indole is enhanced and made more readily available to the body by the cooking process.” Huh.
Bottom line… it appears that eating a combination of raw and cooked vegetables is best for our health. Which is welcome news for those of us looking for excuses to avoid a 30-day hardcore “raw experiment”.