Cooked or raw: how to eat these 9 foods so they retain their health benefits

Cooked or raw: how to eat these 9 foods so they retain their health benefits
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Cooked or raw? This may seem like a thing of nothing, but in fact there’s something in it! And why? Because certain foods can be toxic when they are raw (such as potatoes, whose raw starch is no friend of your digestive system), but also because the choice of cooking them or not has an effect on what our bodies absorb. Cooking can help digestion, soften the fibres and destroy pathogenic micro-organisms. However, it is not always the best solution, because certain nutrients, like vitamin C, are destroyed by heat, and certain cooking methods can be bad for your food. 

So, to cook or not to cook? Here is the response for 9 common foods that we often find on our plates.

1) Beetroot

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Whether they are red, pink or yellow, beetroot should be eaten raw to preserve its vitamin B9 and vitamin C.

2) Broccoli

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This may surprise you, but it is better to eat broccoli either raw or lightly steam cooked. You may be used to cooking broccoli well (and it may take a little longer to digest it raw), but eating it raw maximises its levels of vitamins B and C as well as an array of minerals.

3) Mushrooms

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Even if mushrooms are tasty when they are raw, it is better to eat them cooked for three reasons: they will be easier to digest, the taste will be better and you will absorb more potassium.

4) Onions

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White, red or yellow onions all have the same guidelines: they are better for your health when they are raw! When they are raw, they retain higher levels of allicin than when they are cooked. Allicin is a molecule that allows onions and garlic to repel insects and fungi, and which also has other amazing properties: it produces antifungals and antibacterials…. everything you need for winter!

5) Peppers

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Peppers are so rich in vitamin C that it’s a shame to cook them! The more you cook them, the less vitamin C they retain, but a quick turn in a pan or a wok won’t destroy all of the vitamins. What’s more, they’ll be nice and crunchy if they’re only lightly cooked!

6) Spinach

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A nightmare food among children, the minerals in spinach will be much more easily absorbed if it has been cooked. By contrast, avoid steam cooking it, as this destroys the nutrients. A quick turn in the pan is the best option to ensure it doesn’t lose the juices. And adding a little fresh cream will promote the absorption of the provitamin A it contains.

Bonus tip: if you use a little water to cook it (don’t add too much so as not to alter the trace minerals), keep the cooking water because it is also very useful, especially for making soup or a savoury tart.

7) Tomatoes

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When they are cooked, tomatoes release the maximum amount of lycopene, an antioxidant we find in high doses in tomato purée, in crushed tomatoes and in ketchup.

Bonus tip: If you want to absorb lycopene even better, eat your tomatoes accompanied by an avocado.

8) Asparagus

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Asparagus should be cooked. Cooking helps soften the fibres, which helps digestion and prevents irritation in the digestive tract. We advise steam cooking, avoiding adding too much water, to ensure it retains its vitamin B9.

9) Legumes (peas, beans, petits pois, lentils, etc.)

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Apart from in nutritional terms, these should always be cooked to make them edible and to eradicate undesirable molecules.