Vegetable: Raw vs. cooked; Which is better for you?

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By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland

PHOENIX – Most experts say you need to eat your vegetables raw to get the biggest benefit when it comes to healthful nutrients, but that’s not always the case.

According to registered dietitian Michelle Dudash, author of “Clean Eating for Healthy Families,” some veggies are even better for you when they’re they cooked.

“When you cook vegetables, the cell walls, which tend to be somewhat tough, break down, which releases nutrients and makes it easier for your body to absorb them.”

Dudash talked about some specific vegetables and their nutrients.

  • Carrots (beta carotene)
  • Spinach (calcium)
  • Tomatoes (lycopene)
  • Mushrooms (vitamin D, fiber)
  • Broccoli (better raw, but OK steamed)

Dudash said you need to be aware that cooking vegetables can reduce the amount of vitamin C, which she described as “a very unstable nutrient.” The good news is that, unlike some nutrients, vitamin C is found in a wide variety of foods.

“We don’t need to be as concerned about vitamin C losses,” she said.

Dudash said when it comes to cooking your veggies, steaming is generally the best way to go because it retains the most nutrients.