SOME vegetables are best for your health when eaten cooked rather than raw. Cooking vegetables can neutralize enzymes that would cause digestive problems and remove anti-nutrients, which can interfere with the assimilation of vitamins and minerals.Cooking also kills potentially harmful bacteria. Try poaching, steaming, stir-frying, grilling or roasting your vegetables — according to the American Heart Association, these are some of the healthiest cooking methods.
Cook your cruciferous vegetables
Some folks, however, experience gas and bloating from difficult-to-digest sugars found in raw cruciferous vegetables. These sugars become easier to digest once cooked. Those with thyroid conditions should avoid raw cruciferous vegetables as well. Until cooked, cruciferous vegetables contain thyroid inhibitors that can worsen thyroid conditions.
Boil your beans
Uncooked or undercooked beans contain high amounts of glycoprotein lectin, a toxin that can cause nausea, vomiting and diarrhea within three hours of consumption. The severity of the symptoms is directly related to the amount of the toxin ingested. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, as few as five raw kidney beans can result in illness. A serving of uncooked kidney beans can have up to 70,000 units of the toxin, but fully cooked they have less than 400 units. Fully cooking beans is a simple process: Soak them in water for at least five hours, change the water and then boil the beans until they are soft.
Avoid raw potatoes
You can get away with munching on raw potatoes, but it isn’t great for your health. According to Utah State University, raw potatoes — particularly green ones — can have a high concentration of a dangerous toxin known as solanine. Raw potatoes also contain anti-nutrients. Though you can remove most of the anti-nutrients by peeling the potatoes, some still remain in the flesh. In addition, the uncooked starch in potatoes can result in digestive problems, gas and bloating. For the most benefit and the least risk from your potatoes, bake, steam, saute or otherwise cook them.
Cooking other vegetables
Some vegetables are more beneficial for your health when eaten cooked, despite being perfectly safe to eat raw. For example, asparagus has more cancer-fighting antioxidants once cooked, cooking tomatoes allows you to absorb more lycopene and cooked mushrooms have more bioavailable potassium. The beta-carotene in cooked carrots is easier to absorb, and your body derives more iron, calcium and magnesium from cooked spinach. Unless you have a specific reason to avoid the raw form of a vegetable, include both raw and cooked varieties in your diet.