Raw Food vs Cooked Food
Food has always been the basics of our existence, and some prefer consuming more raw food than cooked one.
Cooked food contributes to much better meal flavor, but cooking food might lower the nutritional value of the produce used, and that is why it is one of the main arguments in this eternal question : consuming it raw or cooked?
Some vitamins are lost when food is cooked, while others become more available for your body to use. There are people that claim that eating primarily raw foods is the path to a better health.
But, you shouldn’t underestimate the power of cooked foods as they have much nutritional benefits as well.
Both have pros and cons and here we are going to elaborate them.
In Case You Are Considering Raw Food Diet
Raw foods are defined as foods that haven’t been processed or cooked in any way. Many decide to follow this diet to solve following problems:
- lower inflammation
- provide more dietary fiber
- improve digestion
- improve heart health
- optimize liver function
- treat constipation
- prevent cancer
- have more energy
- clearer skin
- prevent nutrient deficiencies
- maintain body weight
Raw food diets can include far more than just fresh produce and you might consider consuming fish, sea vegetables, seeds, nuts, eggs, fermented foods and raw dairy products as well.
Since some uncooked and unpasteurized foods are linked to food-borne illness, you’ll need to pay extra attention before consuming them.
You’ll need to wash them thoroughly and be extra careful with sprouts, raspberries, unpasteurized juices, green onions, lettuce, spinach and everything that need to be washed more than enough.
As there is always risk to get food poisoning, raw food diet isn’t recommended for pregnant women, senior, young children, people with weak immune system and chronically conditions (kidney disease).
Who can benefit from raw food diet?
As cooked foods are usually harder to digest than raw foods, plus cooking tends to destabilize some of their valuable enzymes and destroy certain antioxidants and vitamins, switching to raw food for people who can especially benefit from eating more raw foods include those with:
- high blood pressure and cholesterol
- food allergies
- joint pain
- muscle aches
- hormonal imbalance
Consuming raw food, easily make their way out through our digestive systems. It is beneficial because the longer consumed food sits in our digestive tracts, the likelier it is to ferment and cause many problems.
Food fermenting in gut might cause gas, inflammation and accumulation of toxic waste, and can lead to intestinal permeability (leaky gut syndrome), which is highly unpleasant experience.
If we want to preserve our health, we have to lower acidity in our bodies, and raw foods play big role here.
Raw foods neutralize acid and help alkalize the body.
Cooking May Destroy Enzymes
When food’s enzymes are altered during the cooking process, more enzymes are required from your body to digest it, which put an additional stress to it.
Cooking foods deactivates the enzymes found in them. However, there is no evidence that food enzymes contribute to better health.
Some Vitamins Are Lost During Cooking Process
By boiling vegetables, you may reduce the content of water-soluble vitamins as much as 50–60% at most.
Some minerals and vitamin A are also lost during cooking, although to a lesser extent. Fat-soluble vitamins D, E and K are mostly unaffected by cooking.
Steaming, roasting and stir-frying are some of the best methods of cooking vegetables when it comes to retaining nutrients within food.
It is also important to measure the length of time that food is exposed to heat, as it affects its nutrient content.
The longer food is cooked, the greater the loss of nutrients there is.
Cooked Food Is Much Easier Digested and Chewed
The very first process of digesting food is chewing. If the food is improperly chewed, it will be much more difficult for the body to digest, and not enough chewed food usually can lead to having gas and bloating.
Naturally, you put more effort on chewing raw food other than cooked one.
And of course, cooking generally improves the taste and aroma of food, which makes it much more enjoyable to be consumed.
The digestibility of food is very important because your body can use food’s health benefits if it is able to absorb the nutrients from it.
Some cooked foods may provide the body with more nutrients than raw one, because they are easier to chew and digest.
Better Vegetable Antioxidant Qualities
Cooking may increase better antioxidant qualities to some vegetables such as beta-carotene and lutein.
Beta-carotene is a known as a powerful antioxidant that the body converts into vitamin A and it has been associated with a reduced risk of heart disease.
Lycopene (found in tomatoes) is also more easily absorbed by your body when you get it from cooked foods instead of raw foods. It has been associated with a decreased risk of prostate cancer in men and also a lower risk of heart disease.
In a study conducted, it was elaborated that cooking tomatoes reduced their vitamin C content by 29%, while their lycopene content doubled within 30 minutes of cooking. Also, the total antioxidant capacity of the tomatoes was increased by over 60%.
Cooking Kills Microorganisms And Bacteria
It is recommended to eat certain foods cooked, as their raw versions may contain harmful bacteria. Cooking food effectively kills bacteria that may cause food-borne illness you wouldn’t like to get.
Of course, fruits and vegetables can be consumed raw, but they need thorough washing prior eating them. Veggies that are most commonly contaminated with bacteria are spinach, lettuce, tomatoes and raw sprouts.
Most bacteria cannot survive at temperatures over 60°C, which means that cooking effectively kills bacteria and reduces the risk of food-borne illness.
Foods That Are Healthier Eaten Raw
These foods are best when eaten in their raw state, as you can get more benefits from their compounds.
Broccoli (raw broccoli contains three times the amount of sulforaphane, a cancer-fighting plant compound, than cooked broccoli does)
Cabbage (if you choose to cook cabbage, do it for short periods)
Onions (cooking onions reduces beneficial effect which contributes to heart disease prevention)
Garlic (cooking garlic destroys sulfur compounds that have anti-cancer properties)
Foods That Are Healthier Eaten Cooked
These foods are best when eaten in their cooked state:
- Poultry, meat and fish
Some foods are more nutritious when eaten raw, while others are more nutritious after being cooked. The thing is to know which one belongs where, so you can benefit both styles.
It is always best to eat moderate and combine both ways-raw or cooked, so you can benefit from food as much as possible.
Eating only raw food doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be healthier. You may lack of some other crucial nutrients. and diversifying your food choices should be for your best interest.
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