Digestion – Raw Vs. Cooked Food
There is no doubt that raw foods, especially fruits, vegetables and green tea, often have a great deal of nutritional value that’s lost when the food is heated and cooked. This raw produce is also very easy to prepare and clean since there’s no need for lengthy cooking, and there will be no dirty pans with crust or baked on grease. However, when it comes to digestion, experts believe raw is great, but so is cooked.
What’s Harder to Digest: Raw or Cooked
Though research has not been conclusive, studies have shown that enzymes are the life force of a food, helping us to digest various foods and absorb nutrients. Over-consuming cooked food forces our bodies to work harder by producing more enzymes. Eating raw foods, especially fibre-rich fruits and veggies, can help even out the digestion and fight off inflammation and chronic digestive problems. A number of studies have shown that patients suffering from fibromyalgia experience a considerable remission from symptoms when on a raw diet.
Raw Is Great, But So Is Cooked
Nonetheless, cooking plays a vital role in our diets. It softens food, such as raw meat and cellulose fiber, which our teeth, jaws and digestive systems aren’t well equipped to handle. This allows us to digest food without having to expend huge amounts of energy. Cooking also kills bacteria found on some foods, which makes it safe to consume. In fact, some raw foods are not always healthier.
Research indicates that cooked spinach, mushrooms, carrots, cabbage, peppers, asparagus and other vegetables supply more antioxidants, such as ferulic acid and carotenoids, to the body compared when raw, at least, that is, if they are steamed or boiled. According to a report published in the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry in 2008, steaming and boiling better preserves antioxidants in vegetables, such as zucchini, carrots and broccoli, compared to frying. Boiling was deemed to be the best cooking technique when it comes to preserving antioxidants and other nutrients.
Recent studies have confirmed that the human body absorbs more of antioxidants and other beneficial compounds from cooked vegetables than with raw. Scientists believe that the increase in absorption of these nutrients after cooking may be attributed to the breaking down of the plants’ thick cell walls, which aids the body’s uptake of nutrients that are bound to those cell walls.But, on the other hand, there are some vegetables that offer more health benefits when eaten raw. These include watercress, broccoli and garlic. When these veggies are heated, important enzymes are damaged – which reduces the potency of various beneficial compounds. So, although eating lots of raw foods is a key feature of a healthy diet, it doesn’t mean that a diet should include only raw food in order to achieve excellent health. Inclusion of some conservatively cooked food in a diet will certainly help a person expand nutrient density.