Cooking softens food, that help us to digest without having to spend a lot of time and energy. Examples include cellulose fibre and raw meat – raw food, that our small teeth, weak jaws and digestive system that is not strong enough to digest, according to Scientific American.
Although cooking improves the food’s taste, it also changes the food’s nutritional content.
Raw food diet
According to Healthline, raw foods are foods that have not been cooked or processed. While there are many raw-food diets, all of them involve eating mostly unheated, uncooked and unprocessed foods. In general, a raw-food diet is made up of at least 70% raw food.
Supporters claim that raw food is more nutritious than cooked food because enzymes in them (a type of biological matter that helps breakdown food) along with some nutrients, are destroyed while it is cooked.
Cooked food diet
Enzymes can be found both in our body and the food that we eat. While eating, digestive enzymes in our body help break food down so that it is easily absorbed.
Enzymes are heat sensitive and deactivate easily when exposed to high temperatures. In fact, nearly all enzymes are deactivated at temperatures over 117°F (47°C). This is why some individuals support the raw food diet. They claim when enzymes in food are deactivated during the cooking process, more enzymes are required from our body to digest it.
However, it is generally known that cooked food helps us digest them faster and easier. Besides that, cooking food effectively kills bacteria that may cause food-borne illnesses. This applies especially to meat, eggs and dairy. Fruits and vegetables are generally safe to consume raw, as long as they have not been contaminated.
According to Cavemen World, cooked food allows our body to digest and absorb more nutrients than eating raw food. There are certain nutrients in some raw fruits and vegetables that are almost impossible to digest or absorb unless they are cooked.
Lycopene, for example, is a phytonutrient that provides protection from some types of cancer. It is better absorbed by the body from cooked or processed tomatoes (where lycopene is found) than raw ones.
Both raw and cooked fruits and vegetables have various health benefits, including a lower risk of chronic disease. Whether food should be eaten raw or cooked may depend on the type of food.
Listed below, obtained from Healthline are a few examples of foods that are either healthier to be consumed raw or cooked:
Foods That Are Healthier Raw
- Broccoli: Raw broccoli contains three times the amount of sulforaphane, a cancer-fighting plant compound than cooked broccoli
- Cabbage: Cooking cabbage destroys the enzyme myrosinase, which plays a role in cancer prevention. If you would like to cook them, do so for a brief period of time
- Onions: Raw onion is an anti-platelet (component of blood that coagulates blood) agent, which contributes to the prevention of heart disease. Cooking onions reduces this beneficial health benefit of onions
- Garlic: Sulfur compounds found in raw garlic have anti-cancer properties. Cooking garlic destroys these sulfur compounds.
Foods That Are Healthier Cooked
- Asparagus: Cooking asparagus breaks down its fibrous cell walls, making folate and vitamins A, C and E easier to absorb.
- Mushrooms: Cooking mushrooms helps degrade agaritine, a potential carcinogen found in mushrooms. Cooking also helps release ergothioneine, a powerful mushroom antioxidant
- Spinach: Nutrients like iron, magnesium, calcium and zinc are more available for absorption when spinach is cooked.
- Tomatoes: Cooking greatly increases the antioxidant lycopene in tomatoes
- Carrots: Cooked carrots contain more beta-carotene than raw carrots
- Potatoes: The starch in potatoes is nearly indigestible until a potato is cooked.
- Legumes: Raw or undercooked legumes contain dangerous toxins called lectins. Lectins are eliminated with proper soaking and cooking.
- Meat, fish and poultry: Raw meat, fish and poultry may contain bacteria that can cause food-borne illnesses. Cooking these foods kills harmful bacteria.