If you are trying to keep your diet healthy, understanding the best way to prepare certain foods is the key to getting the most nutritional benefits out of what you eat. With some foods, baking, boiling, grilling, roasting, or steaming them will maximize their nutritional content. But, with others, you are sacrificing nutrition by adding heat. Here are 20 foods that you should actually be eating raw if you want to avoid depleting their health benefits.
I love to steam my broccoli and melt cheese over it for the perfect keto snack. But, if you eat broccoli raw, it will load you up with phytochemical sulforaphane, an anti-cancer compound, that also helps prevent heart disease, inflammation, and depression.
Our bodies absorb the sulforaphane more quickly when we eat raw broccoli. When it is cooked, this valuable nutrient becomes less available to your body, and it also decreases the vitamin C levels.
However, if raw broccoli isn’t appealing to you, steaming it has the least effect on the nutrients.
Do you know someone who orders their steaks “still mooing?” This slang term refers to a steak that is cooked so rare and bloody, it’s almost raw. If the steak was any rarer, the chef could have slaughtered the cow at the dinner table.
There is nothing dangerous about eating raw meat. In fact, many dishes, including steak tartare, leave the meat completely raw. When you cook meat, it kills off some enzymes and makes it harder to digest. Raw beef is high in Vitamin B, and some believe it is beneficial for hormonal and reproductive health.
Raw onions can lower your blood pressure, fight cancer, and protect you from heart disease thanks to the high concentrations of the flavonoid quercetin. But, when you cook onions, they lose all of their nutritional value. A 2012 study found that the heart-healthy properties in onions disappeared in less than 30 minutes when heated in an oven.
Like onions, garlic is an allium vegetable that has antiplatelet agents, which can help you fight cardiovascular disease. But, when you heat garlic, it completely suppresses the antiplatelet activity. Eating garlic raw is the best way to get its cancer-fighting benefits. You can definitely cook it because it brings amazing flavor to any dish, but it does reduce the traditional value.
Even though nuts make a variety of different heated dishes and desserts fantastic, they aren’t actually meant to be cooked. Nuts are loaded with iron and magnesium, which are both excellent minerals for your body. But, when you heat them, the calories and fat increase and the magnesium and iron content decrease. So, try adding them as a last-minute topping or eat them by themselves.
Obviously, blueberries are a healthy snack, and they have more antioxidants than any other fruit, according to Julie Joffrion, a fitness nutrition specialist at All Inclusive Health. But, when you process them through baking or cooking, it decreases some of the polyphenol levels, and you don’t get those health benefits.
This goes for all berries. Different berries have loads of nutritional value when you eat them raw. But, as soon as you cook them, the benefits are significantly reduced.
7. Red Bell Peppers
There aren’t many meals that roasted red peppers don’t make better, plus it is loaded with vitamin C. But, when you add heat to red bell peppers, it will destroy the vitamin C, and all that nutritional goodness is gone.
Most people eat rhubarb in pies, but they can also be eaten raw. Rhubarb is a good source of magnesium, fiber, Vitamin C, Vitamin K, Calcium, and Potassium. But, when you cook it, the health benefits are pretty much gone.
If you do eat rhubarb raw, be sure to remove all of the leaves because they are poisonous. Then, dip the stalk in sugar or something else sweet, like honey or maple syrup, to mellow out its naturally tart taste. You can also sprinkle diced rhubarb over cereal or yogurt.
This cruciferous veggie is high in vitamins A, C, and K, plus folate, which helps with brain development and growth. But, when you cook with kale, it completely reduces and sometimes eliminates those health benefits. Instead of cooking kale, try adding it to a salad so you can eat it raw and enjoy all of its disease-fighting properties.
You might think one of the best things about beets is the rich pinky-red color. Beets are also very nutritious because they are a source of folate, fiber, vitamin C, and manganese. But, when you heat it up, beets lose about 25 percent of its nutrients.
Some options for raw beets include shaving it and adding it to salads or a raw beet salad with other raw veggies.
I don’t understand pineapple on pizza, but I don’t judge. If you enjoy grilled pineapple with barbecue or as a pizza topping, I respect your choices. But, only fresh, raw pineapple is effective at decreasing inflammation and colonic neoplasia.
Instead of opting for dried seaweed, you want to eat it fresh. Seaweed is rich in chlorophyll, which helps with cleansing your liver, improving digestion, reducing the risk of cancer, and losing weight. Water is a huge part of fresh seaweed, and it will help your body absorb its nutrients.
Coconut is a natural source of electrolytes, so instead of drinking high sugar drinks, try coconut water. In addition to the electrolytes, coconut water is also a good source of magnesium, potassium, and sodium. But, when coconuts go through the drying process, they lose all of their nutritional benefits.
This one might seem a bit odd, but there is an explanation. When juice companies make bottled and canned juice, they put it through a process that heats the juice up before cooling it down. This depletes the juice of its nutrients, not to mention all of the added refined sugar.
So, make your own juice at home with your own raw fruit so you can control the process and what it is added to it. Or, try fruit-infused water for another healthy option.
15. Olive Oil
Olive oil is great for cooking because it is one of the healthiest oil options out there. We don’t want to discourage you from cooking with olive oil, but just be sure to do it over low heat. Olive oil is rich in antioxidants and vitamin E, but they can be depleted when it is overheated.
It is best to use olive oil raw if you want to enjoy its many health benefits, so try dipping some bread in it for a tasty appetizer.
Spinach is a little tricky because it has health benefits both when it’s cooked and when it’s raw. When you cook spinach, it breaks down the oxalic acid and helps your body absorb the nutrients. But, if you are wanting the vitamin C, you have to eat it raw because cooking spinach will reduce the vitamin C content by two-thirds.
One of the reasons chocolate candy bars have zero nutritional benefits is because the chocolate goes through a heating process before becoming a candy bar. The heat reduces all of the nutritional benefits of chocolate and leaves behind nothing more than junk food.
Chocolate has tons of benefits. It can boost your mood and curb your cravings, but you can only enjoy these benefits with chocolate that hasn’t gone through the heating process, like cacao nibs or cacao powder. It doesn’t taste like a candy bar, but it is still incredibly good.
Cauliflower is a superfood that is so versatile, you can turn into a tasty pizza crust or simply cook it and dip it in some melted cheese. Cauliflower is loaded with Vitamin B, Vitamin C, and Folate. But, when you cook this amazing veggie, the nutrients are shockingly reduced.
The best way to get all of cauliflower’s benefits is to eat it raw. But, like broccoli, if you need to heat it, steaming is the best option because it won’t lose all of its nutrients.
Seeds are high in beneficial nutrients like vitamin B1 and thiamine, but you have to eat them raw for them to have a positive impact on your body. Even though they are great for cooking and baking, the best way to use seeds is raw and on their own or in salads.
While these foods might miss out on tastiness when they’re eaten raw, the health benefits can’t be beaten. Try altering how you eat these foods and live a healthier life to your tastes!