For years, we’ve been told, it’s better to eat raw vegetables and fruits rather than cook them. We’ve been told cooking vegetables and fruits destroys important enzymes and reduces their nutrition value.
While that’s true for certain foods, UK researchers found there are exceptions. In addition, the researchers also discovered the body is better suited to absorb certain nutrients when foods are steamed. Among the foods that are better steamed are broccoli, spinach, and yellow, green, and red peppers.
Certain foods also show significant increases in beta-carotene when steamed. According to Science News, carrots improve with heat because their antioxidant levels increase significantly and their beta-carotene is upped by 63 percent. Vegetables in the cabbage family likewise show beta-carotene improvements when steamed.
Two allium family members, onions and garlic, are another example of foods that improve when cooked. They have sulfur amino acids, such as cysteine, and when they’re roasted, chemical reactions occur to increase cysteine levels, and cysteine reduces heart disease and supports “synthesis of vital proteins.”
Steaming isn’t the only way to increase the nutrient values of some foods. For instance, according to Ohio State University researcher Stephen Schwartz, the more intense the heat in relation to tomatoes the higher the levels of lycopene produced, and according to recent research, lycopene may prevent diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, and osteoporosis.