Many people assume veggies are always healthier raw; that chopping, slicing, dicing or grating them after they’ve been washed is all they need to work their nutritional magic, but that’s not always the case. In some instances, cooking releases nutrients that aren’t available from vegetables if you eat them straight from the farmers market or supermarket.
From beets (think cooked) to tomatoes (either raw or cooked), find out how to get the most nutrients from these nine vegetables.
Raw or Cooked? Cooked. Low in calories and high in nutrients, cooked beets reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke.
Benefits: Naturally occurring compounds in beets improve blood flow, help keep arteries healthy and reduce LDL cholesterol (the ‘bad’ kind). Beets also provide an impressive helping of fiber (or roughage) to help lower blood pressure and keep you feeling full longer. A bonus: Some research has found that drinking beet juice before you exercise increases endurance.
Tip: To avoid spatters of red juice everywhere when cooking beets, wear disposable gloves and an apron before you start to prep, and cover your cutting board with parchment paper before you begin slicing.
Raw or Cooked? Both. Raw carrots can help lower blood pressure, and cooked carrots support a healthy immune system.
Benefits: Both raw and cooked, carrots help keep you healthy. Raw carrots are rich in fiber, which helps lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels, and cooked carrots release carotenoids, compounds the body converts to vitamin A to help ward off infections and support a healthy immune system, notes Andres Ardisson Korat, a scientist at the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center at Tufts University.
Tip: If you plan to serve cooked carrots, the best way to preserve their nutrients is to steam them, which minimizes cooking time and maximizes nutrient content.
To read about the best ways to eat other healthy veggies, from AARP, CLICK HERE.