My personal health journey which started, I believe, in the womb, has evolved immensely over the years. Currently consuming a plant-based diet, I feel that I have found a diet that suits me. I no longer have to bite into a piece of chicken and feel “funny” about whether I really feel right about eating an animal. I also feel like I am absorbing the plant-based protein, calcium and other nutrients with optimal digestion. In general, I feel really happy about life and simply love being in the kitchen.
In my health journey I have wondered if the next step is to move to a 100% raw plant-based diet. Today, I have a combination of raw and cooked plant foods. Going 100% raw would certainly limit some of my favorite cooked plants such as grains, yams, eggplant, squash, and many more. So the question is, would it be healthier to be on a 100% raw plant-based diet even though I have to give up some of Mother Nature’s gifts? For me, I feel right on my current diet. But I still look for validation of this. So let’s explore.
When vegetables are picked, degradation begins. It is certainly best to prepare and eat plants as soon as possible after harvesting them. Refrigeration helps to slow the degradation. And in fact, the fat-soluble vitamins A and E absorb better in the body when lightly cooked but water-soluble vitamins like C and B can be lost when cooking with water which is discarded (steaming) according to www.fitday.com
According to Dr. Fuhrman (www.drfuhrman.com), author of New York Times bestseller Eat to Live, there are benefits of consuming raw fruits and vegetables but just as many benefits to cooking them. He believes that a balance of the two is essential to good health.
With that said, cooking methods most certainly play a part in the healthfulness of your vegetables. Dr. Fuhrman says that baking at high temperatures and especially fried and barbecued foods form a toxic compound and can be dangerous to our health. Conservative cooking, on the other hand, only reduce a small amount of nutrients. These nutrients, including plant protein, are also much more absorbable with light cooking. If eaten raw, we may pass them through our system without absorption in many cases. Dr. Fuhrman is clear to note that cooking nuts on the other hand reduces the absorption of protein. In this case, raw is best.
Dr. Fuhrman encourages raw food consumption and a raw salad to be the main dish. Raw food is necessary for optimal digestion and normal bowel function. To balance the raw, cooking vegetables in soups will allow consumption of any vitamins lost in the broth and allow easier absorption of these vitamins. In summary, “it is healthier to expand your nutrient density, your absorption of plant protein and your nutrient diversity with the inclusion of some conservatively cooked food in your diet.”