Health & Wellness

Should you cook your veggies or eat them raw?

The short answer? Just eat ‘em. All veggies cooked or raw are are a “go.” No discrimination necessary. Most people don’t get the daily recommended intake of veggies, so if you’re getting them in — cooked or raw — you’re doing your body a whole lot of good.

That being said, there is a bit of science that dives a little deeper here. Scientists believe you do, in fact, get more calories from the same amount of food when it’s cooked, as opposed to raw.

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StartTODAY: Craig Melvin commits to less meat, more vegetables

Play Video - 2:38

StartTODAY: Craig Melvin commits to less meat, more vegetables

Play Video - 2:38

Raw food requires the body to work harder, so you burn more calories.

The system used to measure calories doesn’t take into account the energy used to digest food. In other words, when you cook food, you’re breaking it down a little in advance of your body doing so. This means the body will have to do less work to absorb nutrients and you’re burning less energy. Raw food requires the body to work harder, burning off some of the calories it’s ingesting.

There’s also been a bit of research showing cooked vegetables offer less nutritional value.

Some science has shown water-soluble vitamins like B and C may be lost when vegetables are cooked. The largest amount of vitamin loss was found in veggies that had been boiled.

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How to spiralize different types of vegetables

Play Video - 3:18

How to spiralize different types of vegetables

Play Video - 3:18

Though, antioxidant availability may actually go up in some cooked veggies.

Research shows cooking some of your veggies actually increases levels of certain antioxidants such as beta-carotene in carrots and lycopene in tomatoes (the amount of vitamin C however is shown to go down). This is why you may have heard cooked tomatoes or tomato sauce is better for you than eating raw tomatoes on your salad.

So, how should you eat your veggies?

Veggies are veggies whether you eat them cooked or raw. You can rest easy if you enjoy your veggies roasted over raw, and feel free to consume the “extra” unknown calories in cooked veggies (there’s not enough of them to count). I recommend (and I aim) eating veggies both ways, mostly because prepping in a variety of ways helps you eat more of them! So get your veggies in the beginning at breakfast and straight through to dinner and don’t stress about the prep method (as long, of course, as they are not sitting in a pool of butter or cheese.)

For more tips on how to live your most nutritious life, follow Keri on Instagram.

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