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Raw or Cooked: the story of two veggies

Variety of veggies
Variety of veggies
Photo by Neilson Barnard

You may call this the story of two veggies - Raw or cooked. Do you ever wonder if one is better than the other and if so which one is? Some say there is no difference between eating your veggies raw or cooked, this couldn't be further from the truth.

First of all raw vegetables are loaded with enzymes and when cooked they tend to lose most of them. So why are enzymes important? If we didn't have enzymes, the vitamins and minerals would not be able to be processed in our bodies and work properly. Since our bodies require vitamins, minerals, enzymes, and other nutrients to function, this is extremely important.

For cooked veggies, the longer you cook a vegetable, the less enzymes are available to us as they have been cooked away. The heat destroys the enzymes rendering them ineffective. If you want to cook your vegetables, keep it short and under 115 degrees Fahrenheit. If you do this, there will still be enzymes available and you will be able to absorb the vitamins and minerals found within the veggies. Just to let you know Vitamins C & B are the among the first to go when cooking vegetables. Vitamin C is beneficial for producing collagen. Collagen is a protein that strengthens connective tissue, teeth, bones, skin and cartilage. If you are deficient in Vitamin A this can delay the healing process for wounds and delay the formation of bones and teeth. Vitamin B is responsible for helping with the metabolic process of releasing energy from food. There are several variations of B Vitamins. Thiamine, also known as B-1, helps the nervous system to function normally. Riboflavin, known as B-2, keeps the production of mucus going from the membranes of the circulatory, digestive and excretory systems. Niacin, known as B-3, is responsible for keeping our cholesterol and triglycerides lowered in the blood. Pyridoxine, known as B-6, is part of the chemical reaction within amino acids and proteins which help keep the brain function normal. It is also important for the red blood cells.

Some of the benefits from eating your veggies raw include receiving the chlorophyll and lutein from green veggies. Chlorophyll has an alkaline and cleansing effect on the elimination system which in turn helps to cleanse the blood, lymph and intracellular fluids in the body. These are important as they fight off the unhealthy cells floating around in your body. The chlorophyl is also important for delivering oxygen to your tissues and supports the growth of friendly bacteria needed in our bodies. You will get carotenoids and polyphenols from colorful veggies which are important for cardiovascular and immune health.

Remember when consuming raw veggies always wash them under cool running water and for hearty veggies like carrots, use a vegetable brush to clean them. Eat organic when possible and if you do cook your vegetables try them steamed or lightly sauteed as opposed to boiled or roasted. Some vegetables are easier digested when cooked, like broccoli, but for the most part, eating them raw will provide you with a greater amount of nutrients.

This is a short summary of the benefits of eating raw veggies, but at least you have a better understanding of some of the roles they play in the body. If you generally eat your veggies cooked, try a variety of veggies raw and be creative with your dishes for variety. Try dipping them in a pesto or hummus for added flavor. Mixing them with different herbs and a drizzle of olive oil also brings out different flavors. Be creative and see what happens.

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