Fruits and Vegetables: To Cook or Not to Cook?

 , Weight Management Expert  |  Updated: December 16, 2014 11:00 IST

Fruits and Vegetables: To Cook or Not to Cook?
Health experts and nutritionists have always insisted that we include fruits and vegetables in our daily diet. Fruits and veggies are rich in vitamins, minerals and plants chemicals called phytochemicals. There are over 4000 types of phytochemicals (although only 150 of them have been studied in-depth) and each one benefits the body differently. Phytochemicals are popularly known for their antioxidant and anti-cancer properties.

Veggies and fruits are low in sugar, fat and salt and are an extremely good source of dietary fiber. (Daily Intake of Fruits and Vegetables Can Improve Your Mental Health)

How fruits and vegetables keep you healthy:

•    Lower cholesterol levels
•    Lower blood pressure
•    Reduce obesity
•    Provide protection against type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and cancer among other things.

We always think that eating raw fruits and vegetables will give us more nutrition than cooked versions of the same. But raw isn't always better. Firstly, select the best cooking technique as some completely destroy or partially remove important vitamins and minerals. Cooking vegetables in water destroys some of its nutrients. Microwave or steam the vegetables instead of baking, roasting, frying or sauteing them. Even for fruits, always use cooking methods like steaming, roasting or grilling. (Simple Tricks to Remove Pesticides From Fruits and Vegetables)Fruits and Vegetables that Should be Cooked

You can reap the real benefits of some fruits and vegetables when you cook them. Their cooked versions are easier for the body to digest and cooking also helps in releasing their nutrients in a much better manner. Certain antioxidants from foods are absorbed effectively by the body if they are cooked. For example, lycopene from tomatoes are best absorbed when they are cooked.

1. Orange, green and red vegetables like carrots/tomatoes/bell peppers, etc are full of carotenes and they require mild cooking. Beta carotene is tightly bound to the protein and cooking helps to break the bind, making the antioxidants easily available to the body.

2. Spinach is rich in calcium and antioxidants but the oxalic acid in spinach interferes with the absorption of nutrients. Steaming or cooking spinach neutralizes the acid and helps in better absorption of calcium.

3. Kidney beans need to be cooked as they can be toxic when eaten raw.

4. Buckwheat greens contain fagopyrum which causes photo-sensitivity when eaten raw; hence they need to be cooked.

5. Potatoes and mushrooms also contain some toxic substances which interfere with the  absorption of nutrients so it is advised to cook them before eating.

Fruits and Vegetables that Should be Eaten Raw

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Fruits and vegetables that are rich in water soluble vitamins like Vitamin C should be eaten raw as cooking destroys vitamin C. Red peppers, broccoli, cabbage, strawberries, oranges, grapefruits, cantaloupe and kiwis should be eaten raw. Include a minimum of 3 serving of fruits and 4 serving of vegetables in your daily diet.

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