Are raw foods healthier than cooked foods? Some people believe they are — to the extent that they’ll eat nothing but. Raw foodists, as such folks are sometimes called, maintain that consuming only uncooked fruits and vegetables (some add raw seafood and/or meat to their diets) can promote weight loss and help prevent and combat certain diseases. Cooking, they add, destroys key enzymes that make food more digestible.
It’s well known that various cooking methods can leach vitamins and minerals out of some vegetables, but on the other hand the nutrients in certain other foods — including legumes and grains — become more available to the body when they’re cooked. But then you have to be careful how long you keep them in the fridge, as some foods spoil much faster than you think.
Dieticians sometimes recommend against eating some vegetables raw for exactly this reason. The nutritional value of asparagus and even of tomatoes, for instance, is actually increased by cooking. Certain other vegetables may be healthier, and taste perfectly fine, when eaten raw, but may cause gas or bloating. Cruciferous vegetables — Brussels sprouts, broccoli, and cauliflower, for instance — are particularly likely to have this effect.
There are also foods, however, that should never be eaten raw — or eaten in that form only occasionally, or in small quantities — because they contain toxins of various kinds. The amount of potentially harmful compounds in many of these is so small that you’d have to consume huge quantities of them to experience any ill effects. In other cases, though, even a few bites can cause problems. Kidney beans, for instance, are seriously toxic when eaten raw — even though when they’re cooked, they’re one of the best foods for your gut health.
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