How many times have we heard that we need to eat vegetables on a daily basis for flawless skin, for great hair, and of course to lose weight. We all have our favorite veggies and some we absolutely loathe, “karela” is one vegetable that all of us collectively hate. However, when we start to realize the importance of “clean eating,” we tend to include more and more veggies on our plate, and try to include them raw. But not all vegetables can be eaten in their raw form, and you would be surprised to know that sprouts, which are commonly consumed raw, should be taken with caution as some bacteria can get into the seeds even before they can sprout and lead to food poisoning. Some vegetables like potato for example would cause bloating and gas because of the fiber and starch content. Also, we would like to remind you that cooking is not only a process which makes food palatable, it also helps to break down food compounds and nutrients into easy to digest and absorbable forms, without causing digestive distress. The desire to eat vegetables raw stems from a misconception that cooking at high heat and in oils with polysaturated fat can reduce the nutritional value of vegetables to a great degree and that’s why a lot of health-conscious people want to eat their vegetables raw. Even if they are completely organic, some vegetables are so not safe to be eaten raw and provide nutrition only when cooked properly. In this post, we list out 12 vegetables you should never eat raw.
Why Should you Cook Vegetables?
1. Cooking activates certain nutrients in vegetables and increases their bioavailability so that our body absorbs them better.
2. Cooking will help in breaking down harmful compounds into gut-friendly compounds.
3. It breaks down complex compounds into easy-to-absorb ones.
4. Kills bacteria and other harmful pathogens.
5. Reduces chances of food poisoning.
6. Cruciferous vegetables should never be eaten raw, a little heat and oil can make them easy on the digestive system without compromising on their nutritional value.
7. Reduces stress on digestive system.
8. Makes veggies tasty.
9. To get rid of toxic substances like cucurbitacin.
10. To reduce the effect of pesticides.
11. Cooking or heating food can make digestion easier and it can kill worms in vegetables such as brinjal and okra.
Best Way to Cook Veggies and Retain Their Nutrition:
Sauteeing in healthy oils like these.
5. Cooking at medium heat
Compounds in Raw Vegetables that can Cause Harm:
4. Proteins such as lectin.
5. Tetracyclic Triterpenoid Cucurbitacin.
12 Vegetables You Should Never Eat Raw:
1. Mushrooms: Some mushrooms that grow out in the wild have toxic substances that when eaten raw can even cause food poisoning. Also, you can get more potassium out of mushrooms when you slightly saute them in oil.
2. Bottle Gourd/Lauki: A majority of health-conscious people choose to drink lauki juice, which is loaded with nutrients, but one should consume it with great caution because this vegetable when grown under stress and lack of water, has increased levels of cucurbitacins, which might give a bitter taste and cause nausea, vomiting, and even death because of the toxicity.
3. Eggplant/Brinjal: Apart from the presence of worms, egg plants can also have a glycoalkaloid compound called solanine that might cause digestion issues. Also, the antioxidant benefits of brinjal get activated when lightly sauteed in a saturated oil like olive oil or coconut oil.
4. Potatoes: Potatoes are rich in starch which leads to digestion issues. Cooking helps to break down starch and solanine.
5. Broccoli: Broccoli is a cruciferous vegetable which leads to bloating and gas without proper cooking. Grill or saute broccoli on medium flame to break down complex compounds and also to increase cancer-fighting compounds called glucosinolates in them.
6. Cauliflower: Just like broccoli, cauliflower is a cruciferous vegetable which can cause bloating and gas without cooking.
7. Spinach: Green smoothie is incomplete without raw spinach, but did you know, just a bit of steaming would help release spinach’s rich magnesium and iron content. But apparently, polyphenols can get lost during the cooking process, so do not use high heat while cooking spinach. There’s a compound in spinach called oxalic acid which prevents the absorption of iron and calcium and cooking reduces the effect of oxalic acid, so that’s one reason why you should cook them.
8. Carrots: Cucumbers, carrots, tomatoes – common staple of Indian salad system, do not cause any harm when consumed raw, but you want more punch out of your carrots, cook them lightly because the cooking process releases antioxidants like beta-carotene (vitamin A), which is absolutely necessary to run major bodily functions and to boost immune system.
9. Mung Bean Sprouts: Can have bacteria and pathogens, lightly saute them in oil before consuming.
10. Green Beans: It has a protein called lectin which can put stress on the digestive system.
11. Cabbage: Cooking cabbage lightly in just a bit of oil is a good idea to get more magnesium, and folate nutrients out of it.
12. Zucchini: If you boil zucchini, you can activate a lot of nutrients in it.
Tips While Cooking Vegetables:
- Cook food in healthy oils such as these.
- Avoid pressure cooking or deep frying vegetables, you would be getting rid of most of the nutrients these processes.
- Only lightly sautee vegetables with high vitamin C content because they get lost during extensive cooking process.
- Steaming and boiling these vegetables increases their beta-carotene content.