Top 9 Foods You Should Eat Raw Rather Than Cooked

Cooking food makes us feel safe before eating them. It is also a way to make food more delicious when adding other ingredients and spices. Moreover, cooking some food can increase its benefits on health.  However, for some food, we should raw. Why? Because we can keep its nutritional benefits better than using heat for cooking it. Apart from that, cooking some food can make it difficult for our body to absorb vitamins and minerals. The questions are how cooking methods do harm for food and which food we can feel safe when eating raw? Let’s continue reading the article to have the answers and change the habit from now on.

Top 9 Foods You Should Eat Raw Rather Than Cooked

1. Broccoli

Broccoli is one of the superfoods that has a high level of nutritional benefits. It contains a lot of vitamin C, calcium, potassium, and protein. Furthermore, because of having phytochemical sulforaphane, this green vegetable can be beneficial to prevent cancer cells, lower blood pressure, and improve heart health, etc. According to a 2008 study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry[1], people who consumed broccoli raw could absorb sulforaphane more quickly, in comparison with people who cooked it before eating. Besides, a study about the effects of different cooking methods in 2009 showed that the cooking treatments (except steaming) reduce vitamin C in broccoli. Two ways of making the greatest loss of vitamin C are stir-frying and boiling[2]. Therefore, eating broccoli raw can help you avoid losing its benefits.

2. Nuts

80% of nuts are fat, but this fat is healthy, which helps balance your diet and does not contribute to obesity. Nuts are one of the best natural remedies for multiple health diseases. Regular consumption of nuts may lower your bad cholesterol thanks to their existence of unsaturated fats and other bioactive compounds, including fiber, minerals, phytosterols, tocopherols, high-quality vegetable protein, and phenolic compounds[3] [4]. Moreover, with the benefit of vitamin E in preventing the plaques from developing in your arteries, nuts can help reduce the risk of artery disease or a heart attack. A study in 2010 showed that nuts have cardiovascular and metabolic benefits, especially nuts also help us lose weight[3]. Cooked nuts are delicious. However, a study in 2015 found out that antioxidants in hazelnuts, macadamia nuts, and walnuts, which are beneficial to help our cells fight against the damage from free radicals can be reduced after roasting[5]. Particularly, walnuts are enriched with omega-3 fatty acids, which have been shown to lower a raised cholesterol level.

3. Red Bell Peppers

foods you should eat raw - red bell peppers

Red bell pepper is an ingredient which can add more flavour. It contains a large amount of vitamin C, vitamin B6, vitamin E, and magnesium, which are essential for our body to reduce the risk of arthritis, cancer, diabetes[6]. Although it is more delicious when eating cooked red bell peppers, you should consume it raw. According to a survey conducted with young adults ages published in 2018, cooking would lose the amount of mental health-conferring micronutrients from foods including red bell peppers[7]. Moreover, the National Institutes of Health stated that heating could also reduce vitamin C in food[8]

4. Onion

Onion is a common ingredient appearing in every kitchen. A study in 2015 figured out that onion is more popular because of its compounds benefits such as anti-cancer properties, antiplatelet activity, antithrombotic activity, antiasthmatic activity, and antibiotic effects[9]. In particular, the presence of allicin in onions may help curb hunger, prevent cancer, improve cardiovascular health, and decrease high blood pressure[10].  Allicin can be absorbed more when you eat raw onion. According to a 2012 study, heating onion in an oven can make the properties which are good for heart completely disappear just in half an hour or less[11].  Another study also showed that cooking might cause the reduction of allicin, so the onion cannot form the bioactive components[10]

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5. Garlic

People use garlic for not only cooking but also health protection. Garlic is often used after being cooked. Like onions, garlic has allicin, which is good for our body. Moreover, the compounds in garlic can make this ingredient become a cardioprotective, anticancerigenic, and anti-inflammatory agents[12]. Nevertheless, according to a study published in 2001 in the Journal of Nutrition, heating can cause the loss of garlic benefits on preventing cancer[13]. To support this idea, a study published in 2016 found out that temperature can reduce the allicin metabolites leading to the decline of garlic’s anticancer and antimicrobial potential[10]. Besides, when examining the effect of cooking on garlic in 2007[14], the scientists pointed out that the raw form of garlic and some of its preparations could work as antiplatelet agents that improve the prevention of cardiovascular disease. However, this benefit of garlic can be influenced by heating garlic at 200ºC for six minutes because this method of cooking can suppress antiplatelet activity.

6. Blueberries

According to a 2008 study, among the common fruits, blueberry has the highest cellular antioxidant[15]. Moreover, this fruit contains a large number of polyphenols, especially anthocyanins, micronutrients, and fiber, which can improve cardiovascular health[16]. This fruit is commonly used as a snack with salt or sugar. Nevertheless, according to research published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, polyphenols levels can reduce due to baking, cooking or proofing[17]. Therefore, eating it raw is the best way to keep the nutrition.

7. Beetroot

Beetroot, also called beet, has many bioactive compounds, which are good for health. A study published in 2015 supported that beetroot is an effective way to reduce blood pressure, inflammation, and oxidative stress. Besides, it can preserve endothelial function and restore cerebrovascular haemodynamics[18] It is a great source of betaine that protects the blood health from homocysteine levels. Beet also contains folate, a form of vitamin B9. Beetroot is a powerful dietary source of health. Although people tend to cook beet before consume, according to a study in 2003, cooking methods strongly affect folate intake and degrade the natural forms of the vitamin in foods as well[19]. Besides, beet is rich in flavonoid, which makes it helpful to prevent our body from lung and oral cavity cancers. However, a study about the influence of cooking methods on bioactive compounds in beetroot in 2017 showed that flavonoid amount is reduced by all the cooking methods[20].

8. Spinach

foods you should eat raw - spinach

Having a high content of vitamin C, vitamin B6, riboflavin, folate, omega 3-fatty acid, and minerals, spinach is a great choice for you to improve and protect your health from some diseases such as cancer. Plus, a study published in 2015 indicated that spinach contains nitrate, which helps to maintain cardiovascular health, especially lower systolic blood pressure and pulse pressure and increase large artery compliance acutely in healthy men and women[21]. Many experts advise us to eat this vegetable raw because cooking methods can lead to the reduction of nutritional value. A study in 2003 proved that the folate intake could reduce when we cook the food[22]. Moreover, according to the research on 2013, the best way to obtain vitamin C from vegetables is eating raw because some common cooking methods like steaming, microwaving and boiling can cause loss of vitaminC[23]

9. Kale

Kale contains a lot of vitamin A, K, C, manganese, calcium, etc., which are power medicinal properties. One of the most popular benefits of kale is to reduce postprandial plasma glucose levels leading to hypoglycemic effects[24]. However, according to the theory in 1936, the calcium content of kale can be lost when we cook kale in a cup of water for 15 minutes or in two cups of water for 20 minutes[25].

Moreover, thanks to the combination of glucosinolate and enzyme myrosinase in kale, this vegetable can fight against many diseases. Unfortunately, heat makes myrosinase inactive, and this benefit of kale will disappear[26]. Furthermore, the cooking process of kale is proved to cause the loss of antioxidants especially of vitamin C (89%), polyphenols (56%) and extent of β-carotene (5%)[27]. This study also found out that zinc and sodium reduce due to the cooking methods.

We hope that this article gives you some interesting and useful information about the benefits of foods you should eat raw rather than cooled. All content provided is for informational & educational purposes. We recommend you consult a healthcare professional to determine exactly which foods you can use to avoid being allergic. In particular, babies and pregnant women have to be careful before deciding to eat anything without cooking it.

Note: You may read this article was medically reviewed/fact checked by Dr. Sarah Brewer, MSc (Nutr Med), MA (Cantab), MB, BChir, RNutr, MBANT, CNHC at (Link).

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