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Let me introduce myself. My name is Mark Sisson. I’m 63 years young. I live and work in Malibu, California. In a past life I was a professional marathoner and triathlete. Now my life goal is to help 100 million people get healthy. I started this blog in 2006 to empower people to take full responsibility for their own health and enjoyment of life by investigating, discussing, and critically rethinking everything we’ve assumed to be true about health and wellness...

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January 03, 2008

Breaking News In the Fight Between Raw Foodies and Grandmas Everywhere!

By Worker Bee

Raw food has gotten a lot of press lately because a number of studies have suggested cooking depletes vegetables’ key nutrients. As those of you who frequent the MDA community know, we’ve tried to stay out of the fray. In short, we support vegetables—in a pot or not.

Now it’s time for an update—and a little validation. A recent study out of Italy suggests that certain cooking methods may be just fine for our beloved veggies, thank you very much, and may even increase the power of some healthy compounds:

In the new study, the researchers evaluated the effects of three commonly-used Italian cooking practices — boiling, steaming, and frying — on the nutritional content of carrots, zucchini and broccoli. Boiling and steaming maintained the antioxidant compounds of the vegetables, whereas frying caused a significantly higher loss of antioxidants in comparison to the water-based cooking methods, they say. For broccoli, steaming actually increased its content of glucosinolates, a group of plant compounds touted for their cancer-fighting abilities.

via Science Daily

As the article states, this is not the first study to find that cooking can boost the nutrient power of vegetables. It’s commonly accepted now, for example, that cooking can increase the lycopene and overall antioxidant activity in tomatoes.

Yet, there’s still that nagging question of those other studies, the ones that measured nutrient depletion. As the researchers of this study noted, we might one day be able to know the preparation method that most effectively preserves or activates the nutrients of each fruit and vegetable. Until then, science—and the battle—wage on.

Score one for Grandma, but stay tuned.

iLoveButter Flickr Photo (CC)

More News Notes

[tags]cooked vegetables, veggies, nutrient power, lycopene, glucosinolates, raw food, raw foodies, nutrient depeletion[/tags]

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6 Comments on "Breaking News In the Fight Between Raw Foodies and Grandmas Everywhere!"


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9 years 8 months ago

Always good to hear when plant compounds are touted for anything no matter how they are cooked. My question is, what about baked? Does baked count as boiling? Are my eggplants still affective if I casserole them?

9 years 8 months ago
I’m the one who took the photo (glad you liked it Mark!) and am a nutrition student. Proteus, that’s a good question about baked. I would think that some nutrients will be destroyed because of the exposure to high heat, but not as much as boiling where the heat is very direct (stick your hand in a pot of boiling water vs in a hot oven). But don’t worry about the eggplant, they’re still totally effective if you bake them. In addition to vitamins and phytonutrients, they also have lots of minerals which aren’t effected during cooking. Plus, they have… Read more »
9 years 8 months ago

Thanks for the photo, iLoveButter. Cheers!

Brian A
Brian A
9 years 8 months ago

For ovens equiped to do so, I’ve heard that slow-baking at 170-degrees is an excellent compromise. I first learned about this with an asparagus recipe promising hot, but crisp, stalks as asparagus only softens (then mushens) at the 212-degree mark for boiling or steaming. I think it was a 90-minute process.

9 years 8 months ago
Baking is actually one of the lowest-heat cooking methods. (The only one I can think of that employs less heat is smoking.) Counterintuitive, maybe, since your oven goes up to 550 degrees, but temperature is not actually a measure of heat. (Migraineur puts on her Know-It-All, Ms. Science Guy hat.) It is a measure of the average energy of the molecules in a substance. The air molecules in the 450-degree oven each have more energy than a water molecule in a 212-degree pot, but since they are less densely packed, there are fewer molecules, and therefore less total energy (heat)… Read more »
6 years 11 months ago

Thanks for the science leason Migraineur 😀

So, by that logic slow cookers (aka crockpots) are another good way to cook?..