If you have been reading my articles, you may have noticed that I am a big advocate of raw food. I adjust my diet based on the season and the country that I happen to be in; I am not, however, eating 100% raw. My diet consists of both raw and cooked food, and this is because some food items are simply more nutritious when cooked.
So what’s the science behind it?
In general, raw food contains more vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, and especially enzymes, than cooked food. This is the case as many micronutrients are quite heat sensitive, for example vitamin C. Even if you heat it up just a little, the vitamin C count goes down drastically. Even long storing periods will degrade vitamin C content – this is why eating fresh and local produce is so important.
When you use water to cook, water-soluble vitamins in the food will simply disappear with the steam. Fat-soluble vitamins like A, D, E and K will disappear when you cook with oil.
However, some vegetables such as asparagus, mushrooms, tomatoes and carrots are even more nutritious when you cook them before consuming them. Tomatoes for example contain lycopene, a cancer fighting phytonutrient, which increases the longer you cook them – but you lose the vitamin C in the process, and cooking carrots will increase the amount of beta carotene.
In some cultures, especially in the East, it is believed that raw food will cool your body and is therefore not suitable when you’re in a cold climate. You may have noticed when you are in a cold environment, the last thing you want to have is a salad, and when you’re in a hot environment, fresh fruits and salads are so appealing.
So what’s best for you?
In general, have a larger portion of your food raw as it supplies you with more micronutrients especially, as mentioned before, if you live in a hot climate. Add some cooked veggies to your diet to get their maximum goodness.
You can also change up your portions of cooked and raw vegetables when you travel, depending on the climate. As always, just pay attention to how you feel and what your body is telling you, and stick to what feels good.