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Carrots and spinach cooked healthier than raw

Raw vegetables are healthier than cooked ones, some dieticians still claim. The outcomes of epidemiological research are not in line with that dogma, nor are the results of clinical studies. Such as in the experimental study published by nutrition scientists at the University of California in the 1990s. According to their research, we absorb more carotenoids from cooked carrots and spinach than from raw carrots and spinach.

Carrots and spinach cooked healthier than raw

Vitamin C
Okay, okay. There is something to be said for the 'raw is better' credo. Cooking reduces the amount of vitamins in vegetables, nutrition scientists discovered in the mid-twentieth century. When it comes to carrots, the cooking process can halve the amount of vitamin C.

But in the last decades of the twentieth it has become increasingly clear that vegetables contain not only vitamins, but also all kinds of other important bioactive substances. For example, carrots and spinach also provide alpha and beta-carotene, two closely related and prominent carotenoids. [Structural formulas]

Here you can read more about the health effects of this group of substances.

If you eat enough fruits and vegetables every day, your vitamin C intake will be fine. The loss from cooking is not such a point. But with carotenoids things may be different. For this category of phytochemicals, even more so than for vitamin C, more is synonymous with better.

In 1998, American nutrition scientists published an experiment in which they gave 8 women 9.3 milligrams of beta-carotene in the form of pureed spinach and carrots every day for a month. That puree was made from raw vegetables. On another occasion, the women were given the same puree for a month, but this time the puree was made from cooked carrots and spinach.

The researchers measured the amount of alpha- and betacarotene in the blood of the test subjects before and after the administration of the pureed vegetables. They discovered that the intake of the two carotenoids from cooked vegetables was greater than the intake from mashed vegetables.

Carrots and spinach cooked healthier than raw

"Providing cooked and pureed vegetables rather than raw vegetables would appear to be a better approach to providing bioavailable beta-carotene from these carotenoid-rich foods", the researchers summarize.

Through large trials, we now know that supplementation with high doses of synthetic beta-carotene may be dangerous for smokers and for people who work with asbestos. These studies do not apply to people who consume a relatively large amount of natural beta-carotene through regular foods.

Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 1997 Aug;6(8):617-23.

More beta-carotene in your blood, longer life 02.01.2019
Lycopene and beta-carotene protect against heart attacks 16.10.2015
Alpha-carotene: the life elixir in carrots 30.10.2012


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