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.
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.