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Raw vs. Cooked Vegetables?

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So after hearing people left and right touting the praises of the "raw foods diet," I can't help but wonder--is cooking vegetables bad?

If so, why? Are nutrients taken away in the process of cooking veggies? What veggies suffer from this problem? What nutrients are taken away? In general, is it OK to cook veggies, or is it definitely better to just have them raw?

Just curious. 

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just giving myself a bump...


I may be wrong but I think the method of cooking has a lot to do with whether or not nutrients are lost.  For example, I think you lose the most boiling, steaming would be better.  Also, any method of cooking breaks down the fiber so raw veggies have a lot more fiber than cooked veggies.
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I think boiling destroys the nutrients, but steaming doesn't?
As a person of Asian descent, I thought I would add some input to this forum. My mom used to tell me that by boiling vegetables for too long (to the point where it becomes mushy), the nutrients escape into the water itself and lose most of its nutritional value.

But, if you quickly saute the vegetables in even less than one tablespoon of oil (I personally love the cooking sprays that they sell in combination with the non-stick cooking surface pans which drastically reduces how much oil you use b/c most of the time you're just eyeballing the amount) with just salt, pepper and a tiny bit of soy sauce, it makes a perfect stir fry!

Hope this helps!!
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Raw veggies definitely help you feel fuller than cooked ones. I try to incorporate plenty of raw and cooked veg into my diet. Some I can tolerate raw, some not. What I don't eat raw, I generally steam or saute lightly, keeping most of the nutrients intact.
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i definetely prefer steamed broccoli over raw broccoli
Vitamins B and C are ones of the most at risk for being destroyed from the cooking. So, if you are going to eat an probably wouldnt want to cook it (if you are THAT worried about the vitamins in it).

As the others said, the amount of liquid being used to cook is a big factor in escaping vitamins also (but, if you are going to drink / eat the liquid, as in a soup...this isnt as much of an issue. The heat destroyed ones still have trouble, but the others are still in there).

Still, there are some things you can do to reduce the amount of "damage" to the sensitive vitamins. I hear microwaving is better for retaining some of the heat sensitive vitamins then stovetop cooking (because they use less heat or something like that). Then there is steaming instead of boiling.

 But, it all comes down to moderation. Giving up cooked veggies forever just because you are losing a few vitamins isnt a good idea, cooking can make a dish sooo much better (like how melt-in-the-mouth-good cooked cauliflower is *drool*). Dont give up on cooked veggies all together! Just change up the way to make a dish a little and try to avoid the "major killers" like the boiling in water.
However, there are some vegetables whose nutrients are increased after cooking; I know that tomatoes are like this.
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One of the arguments the raw foods people have that its better because we have a lesser time to adapt to cooked foods in our diets. Personally I can not see much truth in that when you consider the incidence of lactose tolerant and intolerant people. I'm sure raising animals for their milk came after people started cooking. Evolving to extract the most from cooked food should surely be a strong evolutionary factor.  ( being able to consume milk with out feeling ill would be a great advantage to people with limited food resources - another food source)

 Cooked foods are also important in later societies. Do you realize some Chinese consider uncooked food like eating raw vegges to be unhealthy. Since cooking would destroy many pathogens. I could see where such a belief would have credibility were manure was heavily used in agriculture. the discovery of the germ theory of disease would allow for safe eating of raw vegatibles. those recent e-coli found in fresh salad greens just show how diligent raw food eaters must be..

one problem with raw veggies is that it may not break down sufficiently for all nutrients to be better extracted. Why one feeds mushed up food to babies.  I'm sure cooked food is better broken down (chewed) before being swallowed than uncooked food. 


If one is overweight, its clear ones body is doing a fine job of extracting nutrients from food. sigh.

I have a question: I had read somewhere that microwaving and frying is better than boiling veggies so the vitamins stay. Last night I put aubergines, tomatoes, broccoli, mushroom and zucchini in a pan with some soy sauce and no oil and I fried it for about 10 minutes. The taste was lovely, and it was not real frying cause I didnt use any oil. What do you think? Is it a good idea or not?
Oct 05 2007 15:47
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Two points to start off with on cooking vegetables.

1. We were all born to drink milk. There may be exceptions due to lactose intolerance, but we're mammals, milk drinkers.

2. We can't eat vegetables until we are weaned. It amazes me that we can eat them at all, because they don't have much similarity to milk as food.  But our bodies are great opportunists when it comes to nutrition.

With that in mind, what makes a vegetable like our basic food?  Milk is sugar (lactose), fat and protein.  Vegetables are mainly carbohydrates - complex, polymerized sugars.  Some of these are completely indigestible (cellulosics, whose beta glucose linkages our bodies are not equipped to digest - these are useful dietary fiber). Most vegetables contain digestible alpha glucose linkage starch, but we can't digest starch very well without raising the temperature above 50-60 C in order to rupture the starch cellules (a cellulose-like sac surrounding the starch molecules).  The rest of the vegetable - any free sugars from sap, protein content and oil content - we can digest without cooking.  Raw also has an advantage over cooking in the case of certain vitamins which are destroyed by heat.

If you don't cook a vegetable, you're wasting the nutritional value of the starch.  With respect to the protein, fiber, soluble sugars and oil content I don't think it makes much difference whether you cook it or not.  Cook your starchy corn, squash, beans, potatoes and rice for sure.  Eat your carrots raw.  But if you can stand to eat carrots cooked, go for it.

Regarding sauteeing in water, I think the idea is great.  I would add a little brandy though.....
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