How often do you cook your vegetables? If you’re health-conscious, you may try to eat as much of your fruits and vegetables raw as possible. In some cases, this is definitely the right move, but in other cases, you could be passing up valuable nutrients. Some vegetables not only become more tender and easier to eat once cooked, but they also have more of their nutritional value unlocked. This has a lot to do with vegetable structure; the nutrients are trapped in the cells, and the toughness of the vegetable limits how much nutritional goodness our bodies can absorb.
Keep in mind, however, that while certain cooked vegetables become more nutritious, the method of preparation is key to getting the most out of them. Don’t just fry them; heavy fats and oils can outweigh the nutritional benefits if they are not cooked out altogether by the heat. Furthermore, some vitamins might break down if the vegetables are boiled. Generally, the best way to handle vegetables is to steam them; this softens them up so their nutrients are available, without breaking them down or overpowering them with unhealthy grease. Consider cooking these vegetables to get the maximum nutritional benefit.
When it comes to taste and texture, the debate about cooking or not cooking carrots is up in the air. Soft, squishy carrots may be less appealing to some, but they’re worth it in terms of nutritional benefit. Carrots are one of the best sources of Vitamin A. Vitamin A is fat-soluble, which means it the best way to get it from carrots is to saute them in olive oil. Olive oil is a healthy fat, but if you would like to avoid oil altogether, you might opt to steam the carrots instead, making them both more tender and nutritious.
Spinach won’t make you super strong, but it is still packed with vitamins and minerals. It’s a great source of potassium, certainly, which is good for heart health. One reason cooked spinach is so much more nutrient-rich than raw spinach is simply a matter of volume; because of the way spinach shrinks, a cup of cooked spinach has more spinach (and more nutrients) than the same amount of raw spinach. The best way to get the most out of spinach is to steam it, which can remove certain compounds in it that can interfere with the absorption of nutrients.