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Is raw food healthier than cooked food?

It’s true: cooking food usually makes it tastier, but this process also changes its nutritional composition. Some vitamins can be lost while enzymes are deactivated.

Based on this information, some people argue that a raw food-based diet, called raw food, would be a healthier option for our body.

For them, the most recommended would be to follow a diet that is at least 70% composed of foods that have not undergone any type of cooking or processing. The consumption preference is for fermented foods, sprouted grains, nuts and seeds, in addition to fruits and vegetables, of course.

However, more than being somewhat difficult to follow strictly, a raw diet can bring some disadvantages to our body. Know some facts about raw and cooked foods to decide:

Cooking can destroy food enzymes

The cooking process deactivates some enzymes found in food – in fact, almost all of them are deactivated when the temperature exceeds 47°C, as this research indicates. However, there is no evidence that food enzymes offer any benefit to our health.

Water-soluble vitamins are lost in cooking

Raw foods can actually be richer in some nutrients compared to cooked ones. This is especially true of water-soluble vitamins such as vitamin C and B vitamins, according to this article.

Boiling food is the method that causes the most loss of these nutrients, while steaming, roasting and stir frying (oriental frying, with wok) are presented as better alternatives.

Cooked foods are easier to chew and digest

Chewing is a very important step in the digestion process, as it is at this point that food breaks down into small pieces that can be digested. Poorly chewed food is more difficult to ingest, requiring more energy and effort from our body.

Cooking, in addition to generally making food tastier, also helps to break down some fibers and cell walls, facilitating the process of digestion and nutrient absorption.

Baking increases antioxidant properties

The act of cooking vegetables can increase the availability of their antioxidant substances, which help fight aging and diseases such as cancer and heart problems.

Tomatoes, for example, lose 29% of their vitamin C when cooked, but the amount of lycopene is doubled, while the total antioxidant capacity increases by 60%. To give you an idea of ​​how important lycopene is, it is associated with a decreased risk of prostate cancer and heart disease.

Cooking kills bacteria and other harmful microorganisms

Even with the loss of some nutrients, certain foods should preferably be consumed cooked, as their raw versions can contain microorganisms that are harmful to our health.

Fruits and vegetables are usually safe to eat raw, as long as they haven’t been contaminated and have been properly sanitized. On the other hand, meat, eggs and fish must go through a cooking process, while milk must be pasteurized, as most disease-causing bacteria cannot survive temperatures higher than 60°C.

Depends on the food!

The truth is that some foods are healthier when eaten raw, while others have more benefits or are safer when eaten cooked. Check out:

Foods that are healthier raw

  • Broccoli: the raw version contains three times more sulforaphane, a substance that helps fight cancer;
  • Cabbage: cooking cabbage destroys the enzyme myrosinase, which helps to prevent cancer;
  • Onion: cooking reduces its antiplatelet effect, which contributes to the prevention of heart disease;
  • Garlic: Cooking destroys some sulfur compounds that have anti-cancer properties.

Foods that are Healthier Cooked

  • Spinach: cooking increases the availability of nutrients such as iron, magnesium, calcium and zinc;
  • Tomato: the cooked version has twice as much lycopene and 60% more antioxidant action compared to the raw version;
  • Carrots: Cooked carrots contain more beta-carotene than raw carrots;
  • Potato: potato starch is practically indigestible when it is raw;
  • Vegetables (pods, peas): raw vegetables contain a dangerous toxin, which is eliminated in cooking;
  • Meat, fish and poultry: Raw versions can contain bacteria that cause food poisoning. Cooking eliminates these microorganisms.

As you can see, the final verdict is that we cannot say that a diet based on raw foods is healthier than a diet based on cooked foods and vice versa. A balanced diet, with a wide variety of raw and cooked foods, is the best option for our body.

The information contained on this page is for informational purposes only. They do not replace the advice and follow-up of doctors, nutritionists, psychologists, physical education professionals and other specialists.

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