The popular myth about the nutritional values of vegetables is “Raw Fruit and Vegetables are more nutritious than cooked ones“. Is it True? Let’s take a closer look at the details.
The theory that cooking foods make them less nutritious is a bit half-baked. Raw food advocates note that heat destroys enzymes in foods that the make them more easily digested. In fact, most enzymes in raw food are destroyed in your stomach acid before they can contribute significantly to digestion, while cooking can actually help with digestion by softening the fibers and making it easier for chewing to release more nutrients. Subsisting primarily on raw fruit and vegetables could even backfire if your goal is to get healthier.
German researchers studied 201 men and women who adopted raw-food diets and found that their total cholesterol and triglyceride levels dropped, but also lowered their HDL cholesterol. Meanwhile, their levels of homo-cysteine (an amino acid linked to heart attack and stroke) rose.
Scientists have recently discovered that cooking actually boosts levels of important compounds in some fruits and vegetables. For instance , tomato sause contains five to six times the anti–oxidant lycopene than raw tomatoes do, making it much more useful against diseases such as prostate cancer.
Heat does rob fresh produce of some nutrients, especially the vitamins that are sensitive to heat or that dissolve in water. For example, cooking fruit and vegetables tend to reduce their levels of vitamin B6, vitamin C and folate in particular. Some of these losses can be reduced by using methods like stir-frying or microwaving, which do not use lots of water. Cooking actually increases anti-oxidant levels of some vegetables such as sweet corn and carrots. So, If you like the raw produce, go for it, but don’t avoid the steamer or wok for the wrong reasons.
Another popular myth is ‘Frozen or canned fruit and vegetables are less nutritious than fresh ones‘. Is that True? Let us also look at this one.
Fresh fruit and vegetables are more nutritious than the frozen and canned ones – at the instant they are picked. However, the fresh foods you find in the supermarket have often had a long journey from the moment they were packed in crates, spending days or even weeks in transit. During shipping and storage, natural enzymes are released in fresh fruit and vegetables that cause them to lose nutrients.
By contrast, food manufacturers, quick-freeze freshly picked produce, which preserves more of its vitamin and mineral content. A good example of this was upheld in a 1992 US study, which found that frozen beans retained twice as much as vitamin C as fresh beans from supermarket. Contrary to common belief, canning does not deplete fruit and vegetables of significant amounts nutrients either. While heat processing may reduce levels of some vitamins, canned foods such as spinach and pumpkin actually have higher levels of Vitamin A than fresh ones.
But what about the taste? You’ll never mistake a frozen strawberry for a fresh one, but freezing technology has made huge leaps in recent years.