Last week I discussed the debate over eating vegetables raw or cooked. According to Ayurveda, this decision is best made with an understanding your body type, level of imbalance, and quality of digestion.
It also turns out that certain vegetables only offer their full nutritional value when they have been cooked. Whether or not you are a raw food enthusiast, it is good to know how to get the most out of your vegetables.
It is important to note that when I refer to cooking vegetables, I am usually referring to steaming for 4 or 5 minutes. Mushy, over-cooked vegetables are not going to provide many healthful nutrients. Boiling vegetables removes many important minerals and nutrients.
Cooking vegetables reduces the mass of the vegetable, concentrating more nutrients with less bulk. Bitter greens like spinach and kale are generally more edible when cooked, because cooking also eliminates the oxalic acid, which interferes with calcium absorption.
Cooking significantly improves the digestibility and bioavailability of starchy foods such as potatoes and yams, squashes. This is also true with grains, and legumes.
Green beans always need to be cooked until soft otherwise they are actually toxic. Raw beans are poisonous because they contain prussic acid, which is deactivated only by cooking.
Cooked carrots, spinach, asparagus, cabbage, peppers supply more antioxidants, such as carotenoids and ferulic acid, to the body than they do when raw,
Mild heating, such as steaming, appears to improve the extractability of beta-carotene from vegetables, and also its bioavailability. Beta-carotene absorption can be as low as 1-2% from raw vegetables such as carrots.
Lycopene in tomatoes is thought to be responsible for reducing the risk of some cancers and heart disease. Studies have shown that the absorption of lycopene is greater from cooked tomatoes. However cooking tomatoes can destroy other vitamins, so it is good to include raw tomatoes in one’s diet as well as cooked tomatoes.
Steaming asparagus ignites its cancer-fighting potential.
If you have any questions about which form of vegetables is best for you, check with an Ayurveda expert in your area. Ayurveda pulse assessment will reveal what kinds and forms of vegetables will be most helpful in creating a healthy balance for your mind/body system. Ayurveda recognizes the unique differences of each individual. In order to correctly determine our optimal requirements it is important to understand our level of balance and imbalance. For information on Ayurvedic consultations, visit The Raj Ayurveda Health Center