I am of the belief that eating a diet abundant in plants and whole foods, eaten in any form (roasted, raw, grilled, micro-waved, broiled), has enriched my life and health dramatically. Cooking and preparing my foods in a variety of ways has helped me connect more with the food I put in my body and with the earth that produces this food.
Rather, I hope to clear up some misconceptions that actually fuel many of the arguments for raw veganism. Through research corroborated by scientific inquiry and knowledge, I want to prove that eating cooked foods is far from detrimental to your health.
Misconception- Eating cooked foods depletes the nutrient contents of the plants.
Sure, the chemical properties of foods are altered by cooking. This is not necessarily bad, though, as some nutrients are enhanced through cooking. The process of heating and cooking modifies the cell wall structure in plants. This can have marginal effects on the fiber content of foods, but not enough to deprive you of necessary fiber in a plant-based diet.
For example, cooked tomatoes have higher levels of the antioxidant lycopene than uncooked ones. According to Cornell Associate Professor Rui Hai Liu, "Cooked carrots, spinach, mushrooms, asparagus, cabbage, peppers and many other vegetables also supply more antioxidants, such as carotenoids and ferulic acid, to the body than they do when raw." The blade swings both ways; for example, Vitamin C levels actually drop upon cooking foods. While this is true, it is entirely feasible to get adequate Vitamin C while eating a varied plant based diet because of its pervasiveness in fruit and veggies.
As long as you eat a diet varied in produce and style of cooking, which does include eating raw vegetables; you are definitely treating your body well.
Challenge- What about Spices?
Most raw vegans swear off spices. According to FullyRaw.com, " Because our taste buds have experienced the excitement of salt, sugar and spices, we may miss those tastes initially when they are no longer part of the daily diet".
This concept is foreign to me, as adding spice and flavor to dishes is one of my favorite parts of cooking. Spices and herbs are not only great for widening the flavor profile of your dish, but also for providing antioxidants, minerals and nutritive properties in a compact way. Spices like cinnamon and turmeric are widely used for their ability to reduce inflammation, triglyceride and blood sugar levels in the body. Curcumin, the compound in turmeric, is lauded as an ancient health remedy and cancer fighter. This disease-fighting nature is true of multiple other herbs and spices like cayenne, rosemary, and garlic.
Conclusively, I argue that eating a plant-based diet that includes plants eaten both raw and cooked is optimal for health.
[Image from PxHere]