Are raw fruits and vegetables better for us that cooked? We did some investigating...

Raw food Vs cooked food - Women's Health & Fitness magazine

Raw is the new cooked. Proponents believe that raw fruits, vegetables and nuts are richer in vitamins, minerals, enzymes and other nutrients than their heat-exposed counterparts.

But science says that cooking some plant-derived foods actually increases their nutrition cred by making nutrients more bio-available. A study published in the British Journal of Nutrition in 2008 found that 198 subjects who followed a strict raw food diet lacked antioxidant lycopene – a red pigment found in tomatoes and proven to protect cells from free radicals and fight collagen depletion, heart disease and skin cancer.

And a 2002 study, published in the Journal of Agriculture revealed that cooking actually boosts the amount of lycopene in tomatoes, with one type of lycopene, cis-lycopene, rising 35 per cent after being cooked for 30 minutes at 88 degrees celsius. Heat breaks down the plants’ thick cell walls and aids the body’s uptake of nutrients bound to those cell walls. But some nutrients are vulnerable to heat, making the raw vote a winner. You’ll want to keep foods with vitamin C out of the heat, for instance.

Bottom line? Mix it up and eat your five a day, and the net nutrient difference will be negligible.

Next: choose a healthy eating plan.