Can cooking vegetables remove all their nutrients? The answer is no. While cooking can reduce the amount of some nutrients, it does not strip your food of them all. Cooking your vegetables and eating them raw are both beneficial to your health.
Carrots, spinach, tomatoes, peppers and many other vegetables supply more antioxidants cooked than they do raw. Cooking vegetables increases the level of antioxidants they contain such as carotenoids (which give them their reddish colour). Our bodies convert these antioxidants into vitamin A, which aids reproduction, bone growth and regulates our immune system. But vitamin C levels can decline by up to 30%.
Different kinds of cooking affect nutrients differently; frying your vegetables is one way to greatly reduce a vegetable’s nutrient content. This is because the antioxidants are used up during frying to stabilise oxidation. An interesting fact is that raw tomatoes contain fewer nutrients than cooked ones. This is because many plants have thick cell walls, which are broken down during cooking. Boiling or baking tomatoes releases nutrients because the heat breaks down the cell walls and helps our body absorb the nutrients.
If you prefer raw vegetables, try blanching them to help preserve the nutrients and get rid of any nasty bacteria.