The formula for maintaining good health and reducing the risk of chronic disease is simple: eat right and exercise. And if you want to eat healthy, it means eating your daily recommended servings of fruits and vegetables.
What's the best way to eat vegetables? You may have heard that when you cook vegetables — be it by boiling, steaming or roasting them — they lose most, if not all, of their nutrients. If you're not a fan of veggies in the first place, then eating something that isn't even vitamin-rich kind of defeats the purpose. But not all vegetables are created equal, and raw isn't always better.
Some vegetables offer certain health benefits when consumed raw and others when cooked. Take broccoli, for example. Recent studies have found that eating the cruciferous vegetable can help protect you against liver cancer. Lifestyle blog Fix explains that myrosinase, the enzyme credited with cleansing the liver of carcinogens, is destroyed when broccoli is cooked. Obviously, eating it raw is better if you are hoping to keep liver cancer at bay. But say you want to lower your bad cholesterol. Some compounds in broccoli will help you accomplish this health goal, but only if you steam it first. The key, therefore, is balance. Hey, they don't call it a balanced diet for nothing, you know — it keeps your body running efficiently when you include a smart mix of both raw and cooked veggies.
Of course, there are some foods you should never eat raw, while others "actually have a better nutritional profile when cooked," adds Fix. So when do you go raw and when do you fire up the stove? This handy chart prepared by Fix breaks it down for you: