We wrote back in January that some vegetables have more nutrients when consumed raw, while others are better cooked. There still are many myths out there about raw vegetables that we’d like to correct.
For example, do carrots really help improve vision? Is iceberg lettuce worth eating? We separated the fact from the fiction.
To say that carrots improve vision is both true and false. Let us explain: Eating carrots will improve overall eye health, but it won’t make a blind person suddenly see in 20/20 vision. That’s a result of the beta-carotene in carrots that convert to vitamin A for eye health.
However, carrots have had an interesting reputation as a cure-all, none of which hold any truth. During World War II, a diet rich in carrots was thought to improve night vision. Likewise, in the middle ages, carrots were thought to cure everything from STDs to snakebites.
The amount of carbohydrates in 1 cup of chopped carrots, at 12 grams, has less sugar than a cup of milk or a medium-sized piece of fruit. Pile on top of that all of the fiber, vitamins and minerals at 52 calories and you have one nutritious food that actually improves blood-sugar control.
Poor iceberg lettuce! We used to love eating you in a salad or stuffed in a pita or under a bun, and there’s still nothing wrong with you. We were seduced first by spinach, then arugula and now kale because of their “superfood” statuses. It’s just like that time in high school when we went out with that really nice guy who would bring us flowers and study for precalculus with us, but then we heard that the varsity quarterback thought we were cute so we left Mr. Mathematics for the Prom King. We’re getting off-topic.
The point is, iceberg lettuce may not be a “superfood,” but it has some amazing vitamins, including A, C, K and B6. Plus, it contains lots of water, which is always good for our bodies and is low in calories. Now if only it could do our precalculus homework with us.
A negative-calorie food — as defined by Tim Garvey, chair of the department of nutrition sciences at the University of Alabama–Birmingham — would contain fewer calories than the body requires to digest it. It simply isn’t possible. While chewing and digestion does burn some calories, it’s still just a fraction of the calories consumed, even for super low-calorie foods like celery.