Tag Archives: fruits and vegetables

Raw vs. Cooked – Which Contains More Vitamins and Minerals?

Let’s finally put an end to the debate of raw vs. cooked.

Of course, in the grand scheme of a well-balanced, nutrient-dense, varied, whole foods diet, the cooked vs. raw debate isn’t that critical for most people.

Where this can become a consideration is for vitamin and mineral deficiencies (or “insufficiencies”). These may be due to digestion or absorption issues, or avoidance of certain foods (due to allergies, intolerances, or choice).

And I’ll tell you that the answer isn’t as simple as “raw is always better” or “cooked is always better.”  As with most nutrition science, it depends on several factors. Some vitamins are destroyed in cooking, while others become easier to absorb (a.k.a. more “bioavailable”).

With the Metabolic Balance® program, both raw and cooked foods are part of each and every individual meal plan. This guarantees that the maximum nutrition is derived from the foods. The plan will explain which vegetables are eaten raw and which are cooked, taking the guess work out. Learn more here. Or visit the page on Metabolic Balance® here

Here is the skinny on vitamins and minerals in raw foods versus cooked foods. You have the option of reading on or for my friends who prefer audio there’s a 5 minute recording right here.

Raw Versus Cooked Foods

 Foods to eat raw

As a general rule, water soluble nutrients, like vitamin C and the B vitamins, found mostly in fruits and vegetables, are best eaten raw.

The reason why is two-fold.

First, when these nutrients are heated, they tend to degrade;  this is from any heat, be it steaming, boiling, roasting, or frying. Vitamin C and the B vitamins are a bit more “delicate” and susceptible to heat than many other nutrients.

Of course, the obvious way to combat these nutrient losses is to eat foods high vitamin C and B vitamins in their raw form (like in an awesome salad) or to cook them for as short a time as possible (like quickly steaming or blanching).

Fun fact: Raw spinach can contain three times the amount of vitamin C as cooked spinach.

The second reason why foods high in vitamin C and the B vitamins are best eaten raw is that they’re “water soluble.”  So, guess where the vitamins go when they’re cooked in water?  Yes, they’re dissolved right into the water;  this is particularly true for fruits and veggies that are boiled and poached but even for foods that are steamed as well.

Of course, if you’re a savvy health nut, you’ll probably keep that liquid to use in your next soup or sauce to preserve those nutrients that are left after cooking. Just don’t overheat it or you may lose what you were aiming to keep.

But, how much loss are we talking about?  Well, of course, it ranges but can go from as low as 15%, up to over 50%.

In short, the water soluble vitamins like vitamin C and the B vitamins degrade with heat and some of what’s left over after they’re heated dissolves into the cooking water. So be sure to cook your fruits and veggies as little as possible, and keep that cooking water to use in your next recipe.

Soaking nuts and seeds

Regarding raw nuts and seeds, it may be beneficial to soak them. Soaking nuts and seeds (for several hours at room temperature) allows some of the minerals to become “unlocked” from their chemical structure, so they’re more absorbable.

Foods to eat cooked

Cooking certain orange and red “beta-carotene rich” veggies (e.g. tomatoes, carrots, & sweet potatoes) can help make this pre-vitamin A compound more absorbable.

Fun fact: One study found that absorption of beta-carotene was 6.5 times greater in stir-fried carrots than in raw carrots!

Of course, eating your fat-soluble vitamins with a bit of fat will help you to absorb more of them, so that’s one factor to consider.

One vegetable that’s best eaten both raw and cooked

Spinach!

And I’m not just saying this to get everyone to eat it any way possible (although, I would love for this to happen…unless you’re allergic, or sensitive to the oxalates in spinach of course).

Spinach contains so many beneficial compounds that it’s great eaten both raw and cooked.

Eating raw spinach preserves the water-soluble vitamins C & the B vitamins.

Eating spinach cooked allows the pre-vitamin A, as well as some of the minerals like iron to be better absorbed. Not to mention how much spinach reduces in size when it’s cooked, so it’s easier to eat way more cooked spinach than raw spinach.

Conclusion:

The old nutrition philosophy of making sure you get a lot of nutrient-dense whole foods into your diet holds true. Feel free to mix up how you eat them, whether you prefer raw or cooked just make sure you eat them.

References:

http://www.precisionnutrition.com/10-ways-to-get-the-most-nutrients

https://authoritynutrition.com/cooking-nutrient-content/

Yep, you gotta read the small print, its important:

Disclaimer

The information contained herein is NOT intended as medical advice, nor is it intended to replace the care of a qualified health professional. Always consult your doctor for all diagnoses, treatments, and cures for any diseases or conditions, as well as before changing your health care regimen.

Detoxification Debate

On January 5 I held a presentation titled Understanding Detoxification.  Given the popularity of the topic and the time of year, I suspected I would get a decent turnout. I was not disappointed.

As the registration process began people kept commenting on how badly they needed a detoxification protocol, not uncommon after the Christmas  and New Year festivities.

As the presentation evening approached I started getting nervous because I had no intention of talking about detoxification protocols, kits, cleanses, fasting or special drinks(other than drinking plenty of pure water) as a means of achieving the ultimate detox!

What I really wanted to talk about was how the body performs the detoxification process naturally, on a regular basis and the type of nutrition and lifestyle strategies that support the body systems that perform the process. In fact, if toxins actually accumulated in the body we would have all suffered a rather unpleasant fate or require serious medical intervention.

I also thought it important that people understand that toxins are not just something “out there” and that we, through our normal state of metabolism generate toxins-yes, really!

For most people that’s about as exciting as the old adage eat well and exercise.  I did not have a magic bullet, but that’s the truth when it comes to detoxification. Just ask Timothy Caulfield, Canada Research Chair in Health Law and Policy at the University of Alberta and the Author of two books: The Cure for Everything, Untangling the twisted messages about health fitness and happiness and Is Gwyneth Paltrow Wrong About Everything?: when celebrity culture and science clash.

Mr.Caulfield has spent many years studying the impact of celebrity culture on our health decisions and according to his research many of the evidence free health trends would not have become billion dollar industries without celebrity endorsements and that includes detoxification.

The reality of it is that achieving and maintaining good health requires a sustained and continuous effort and your body will reward you by functioning optimally. Over indulging during holidays, celebrations and special events does not mean all that good work is undone; your body will remind you through some unpleasant responses that there is a better way.

As for detoxification the debate goes on.  For me the evidence is not very convincing.  I’m sticking to the old adage of eat well (which also seems confusing to most people) and exercise.

Here are some simple tips to support your body’s detoxification process:

  • Eat real food and enjoy foods in their natural state.  Focus on fruits and vegetables as they play a major role in a health body and contain compounds that help the body deal with ingested chemicals.
  • Take a break between meals.  This allows your body to digest more ly completely and helps the body perform, what I call it’s “scavenger duties” (clean up of stored toxins).  This is particularly effective during the overnight fast-meaning when we are asleep.
  • Move, get some exercise and sweat.  Our skin is a major elimination organ.
  • The kidneys are a major elimination organ, support them with plenty of hydrating fluids including pure water.
  • Be aware of food allergies and note any food intolerances.  This can impair digestion and disrupt nutrient uptake.
  • Limit alcohol.
  • Take care when choosing personal care and household cleaning products.  The chemicals used in many of these products are absorbed through the skin and inhaled by the lungs and contribute to our toxic load.
  • Remember to breathe!

 

 

 

 

Important small print you must read:
Disclaimer
The information contained herein is NOT intended as medical advice, nor is it intended to replace the care of a qualified health professional. Always consult your doctor for all diagnoses, treatments, and cures for any diseases or conditions, as well as before changing your health care regimen.