Eat Your Veggies!
Raw or Cooked? Which Do You Think Is the Healthier Choice?
It might surprise you to know that while raw vegetables have amazing attributes, there are many reasons why cooking your veggies is preferable or even necessary to not only ensure digestibility and nutrient absorption, but also to neutralize potentially harmful elements.
For example, eggplant and potatoes contain a compound called solanine, which inhibits the absorption of calcium and can cause neurological and gastrointestinal disorders. Some green beans, Lima beans and kidney beans require cooking to neutralize compounds that can not only block the absorption of important nutrients, they can be toxic enough to make you ill.
Certain greens and cruciferous vegetables can be eaten raw however, some greens contain oxalic acid, which can block the absorption of calcium and iron and some cruciferous vegetables contain goitrogenic substances that can block the production of thyroid hormone. If you have any disorder of the thyroid you would be well advised to cook these veggies more often than not.
A common misconception is that cooking will destroy vital minerals and vitamins but this is not the case when done properly. In fact for some vegetables, heating can increase potential digestibility by breaking down the cellulose wall, providing easier access to the nutrients while destroying or neutralizing the anti-nutrients.
Raw vegetables are wonderful for detoxifying
while cooked vegetables are wonderful for nourishing.
Moisture based cooking methods including steaming or blanching, result in only small amounts of nutrients lost; however, many other nutrients are made more absorbable. In the case of soups and stews, there is almost no loss at all because we consume the liquid the vegetables are cooked in.
Heat based cooking techniques including roasting, browning, stir-frying or grilling should be done quickly when using high temperatures to preserve nutrient content and prevent the formation of acrylamide which is potentially carcinogenic. Lower temperature cooking provides a bit more leeway.
Critical to your success is choosing the correct oil, which has to do with double bonds and smoke point. When you heat oil beyond its smoke point, it will generate toxic fumes and create dangerous free radicals. For this reason, I never recommend cooking at high heat with extra virgin olive oil or any of the “healthy” seed oils.
The oils I recommend for higher heat cooking include butter or coconut oil, both of which have a smoke point of 350 degrees, light olive oil which has a smoke point of 420 degrees, or palm oil which has a smoke point of 450 degrees.
All that bad brainwashing that told us these saturated fats were unhealthy needs to go out with yesterday’s trash. Not only are these fats healthy to cook with, they also help improve the absorption of minerals and fat-soluble vitamins.
To be clear, extra virgin olive oil is the healthiest of the olive oils, but beyond 300 degrees it begins to degrade and go rancid. You are best saving EVOO for the delicious flavor it contributes and using it as an after cooking drizzle, as a dip for bread or when making salad dressing. The oils you want to avoid are the ones that are omega 6 heavy and omega 3 light. This list includes: canola, cor, and soybean oils, which are generally genetically modified as well.
Virtually every vegetable can be steamed or tossed in oil and grilled, roasted, or stir fried. Try including them at every meal! For example, an omelet with spinach, mushrooms and onion for breakfast, a grilled chicken salad for lunch, and any source of protein for dinner surrounded by a variety of vegetables and a salad.
Veggies are awesome! They're good, no! they're great!
Make sure they cover 2/3 of your plate!