Grow Youthful: How to Slow Your Aging and Enjoy Extraordinary Health
Grow Youthful: How to Slow Your Aging and Enjoy Extraordinary Health

Raw Vegetables vs. Lightly Cooked

Raw vegetables have some significant health advantages compared to cooked vegetables, mainly that the enzymes, vitamins and other micronutrients are intact. However a 100% raw diet is difficult to maintain, and is certainly not the best diet for everyone.

Interestingly traditional practicing Taoists who have achieved long lives for thousands of years, recommend lightly steaming their vegetables. I note in Grow Youthful that cooking destroys the anti-nutrients present in a few vegetables such as potatoes and turnips. It lists a range of foods which should always be cooked rather than consumed raw.

Now some research (1) suggests another reason for light steaming - it seems to improve the cholesterol-lowering capability of several vegetables. In this study, when beets, carrots, eggplant, okra, green beans, asparagus, and cauliflower were lightly steamed, something interesting happened. The steamed veggies did a better job of binding to bile acids than the raw veggies. Your liver uses "bad" LDL cholesterol to make bile, so the process tends to mop up some of the LDL circulating in your body.

In Grow Youthful I emphasise that cholesterol is not "bad". It is essential for numerous processes in your body, and is the raw material used to make many steroid hormones. Up until ten years ago, I had been on a low cholesterol diet for many years. I felt stressed and angry. Getting back onto a diet with sufficient cholesterol improved both my physical and mental health. So lowering your cholesterol levels is not necessarily a good thing - instead, your focus should be on inflammation and oxidisation.

References

1. Steam cooking significantly improves in vitro bile acid binding of beets, eggplant, asparagus, carrots, green beans, and cauliflower. Kahlon, T. S. et al., Nutrition Research 2007 Dec;27(12):750-755.