Why You Shouldn’t Eat (All) Raw: Surprising Foods That Are More Nutritious Cooked
Beware of the green juicing fad.
All around the world, blenders and Nutribullets are flying off the shelves, where people are desperate for a new silver bullet that’ll help with health and weight loss.
But what if eating ‘raw’ isn’t as good as people claim it is for you?
What if, in some cases, it’s actually worse?
In today’s article I’m going to show you some interesting studies and research that’ll show if you should be eating raw – and when you’re better off eating cooked food instead.
Is Raw Food All It’s Cracked Up To Be?
In general, I think it’s fantastic!
The idea of getting more fruits and vegetables is really important – for health, weight loss, energy, getting more nutrition, etc.
But like all things…. more is not necessarilly better.
Drinking 100 oz of green juice a day is unsustainable for the average person. That’s why seeing new juicing and detox fads make me cringe a bit – for the average person, there’s no way they can do this on vacation, when traveling, while at work, or in general, for the next 30 years.
But there’s a widespread idea that juicing or eating raw food is somehow better for you – flat out. Let’s take a look at some quick studies and see what they say on this subject.
A study done to compare the diets of 198 people on a raw food diet found that they had high levels of Vitamin A and Beta-carotene, but low levels of Lycopene (another antioxidant). As you’re going to see – this tends to be a pretty big trend – vitamin C levels usually decrease in cooked food, but Lycopene levels go up.
Lycopene is an important antioxidant that helps with cancer and heart attack prevention.
This 2007 study found:
- Water-cooking better preserved the antioxidants in all the vegetables analyzed (especially carotenoids)
- Antixiodant levels increased with all of the cooking methods (versus raw)
Another study done (and many others) have repeatedly found that, in tomatoes, the Lycopene (The key antioxidant) was made more available by cooking after the cell walls were broken down.
Yet another study found that, overall, boiling and steaming makes nutrients more available (mostly the carotenoids – more antioxidants) or preserves them better.
Vitamin C Levels
In tomatoes, vitamin C decreased after cooking (study).
In the same study, vitamin C decreased by about 30% after cooking for close to 30 minutes. The researcher noted that Vitamin C is easily oxidized by heat, and dissolved by water.
Because it’s relatively unstable, this is one of those vitamins that you’re better off getting raw.
The good thing is you can get crazy levels of vitamin C from something you should already be eating raw – fruits! Even some vegetables that we typically eat raw (e.g. red bell peppers) have insane levels of vitamin C, several hundred percent higher than even oranges and your morning orange juice.
Antioxidants are really critical in long term cancer prevention, a 2007 study found that in Broccoli, a key cancer-fighting compound called Sulforaphane was released after a little time steaming or cooking – but the highest levels of this antioxidant were found in raw broccoli. So if you can tolerate it, eat this one raw. If you’re like me, and absolutely cannot see yourself eating raw broccoli, steaming it just for a few minutes while it’s still crunch will help preserve much of that.
Some other vegetables and fruits that are higher in nutrition raw:
- Raw nuts (Vitamin E)
- Broccoli (Vitamin K)
- Most fruits and fruit juices
Sounds Complicated? Here’s my Simple Rule
Just focus on eating more fruits and vegetables.
We know that fruits and veggies form a bulk of the protective compounds that you know are important for health, energy, disease prevention (or reversal) and more.
Keep in mind my philosophy of big wins – just focusing on ONE thing. It’s a complete and utter waste of time to try and split hairs, wondering which vegetables to eat raw, and which ones to eat cooked.
Just keep it simple: eat more of them overall. Don’t worry about getting 10% more nutrients here, or 10% less nutrients there.
But don’t think magically going on a raw green juice fast for life is going to solve all your problems, or become a real long-term solution for weight or health issues. Having said that, I DO have a daily green juice I take. I like to think of it as a morning multivitamin.
The Lazy Way To Get More Veggies in Your Diet: My Morning Green Juice
This is currently what I have every day after breakfast, before lunch:
- Romaine (A big handful)
- Swiss chard (3-5 leaves)
- Red cabbage (A small slice of a leaf, about 6 inches long)
- A bit of ginger (a 1/2″ slice)
- One whole apple or peach
Blend it up with 4-8 oz of water (I use a nutribullet so I get all the fiber and plant material), and then I drink half of it after breakfast, before lunch, and the other half in the afternoon.
Leave a Comment Below
Do you eat raw foods?
Or do you cook all your vegetables?
Do you like some raw, some cooked? Why?
Tell me below!
Great article, Alex! I eat lots of vegetables – both raw and cooked. I burned out on juicing so I don’t do that anymore but I’d like to get a Nutribullet or something along those lines and start juicing again – great for sustained energy levels.
I started to enroll in your webinar, which sounds great and then discovered it clashes with a social engagement: Labor Day BBQ at your mother’s house!
I’m with you there! And yeah, juicing can get to be too much if you go overboard. I’ll come down and visit you Sunday!
I have been eating an egg, green apples, plain yogurt, low fat cheeses like cottage, mozzarela and feta, and raw vegetables for the past four weeks. mainly salads that include lettuces, tomato, red bell pepper, cucumber. no dressing, I use cottage or feta instead. This week I added some protein, like fish or chicken. Losts of water. Can let go of the coffee though!
I feel great and have lost some pounds.
Awesome, congrats on your success Mariana :-).
As a “walking miracle” with both a mechanical “Aortic valve” (have to take Warfarin to keep blood thin) and a “Stoma” (which doesn’t like certain foods), I have to be careful what I eat. Raw veg is out, I steam all mine.
I’m with you there Dave! I get the rumbly stomach if I eat too much raw.
Steamed veggies are a rage in our house. We steam cluster beans, carrots, broccoli and mushrooms regularly. At times we add red and yellow capsicums to the above. Carrots and cluster beans need more steaming, mushrooms least, so I load/add the veggies appropriately. To this when ready, I add sliced tofu marinated in vinegar and salt. This combination is great to eat by itself. If we want to eat it with rice, I add all of this to a sauteed gravy of garlic, onions and tomatoes- adding half spoon of whole wheat flour for thickening the gravy.
This is exactly what I do! Haha too funny. Now you’re making me hungry 😀
I take both raw and cooked food. Raw in the morning and cooked in the afternoon.
Great idea Helen! That’s a way to balance both for sure.