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Ask Levi: Does Cooking Diminish All Health Benefits?

As if it wasn’t hard enough to choose healthy food in the first place, the news media and researchers seem hell bent on destroying our hopes for ingesting any sort of nutrients.

I’ll explain below, in my answer to this question…

Coach,

Regarding your oatmeal article: Does the profile you wrote about apply only to raw oatmeal or cooked (heated, toasted, etc.)?

It’s always been my understanding that heating denatures proteins and fats, and destroys or diminishes vitamins. I’m always curious about this, because so many nutritional claims are made based on data from raw ingredients, but the actual ingredients used are cooked.

It’s an interesting discussion and I’ve never fully gotten to the bottom of it.

– Oatmeal Owen

Believe me, Owen, I’m curious too! The topic is interesting indeed and I bet the science and research findings will change before we get to the bottom of it!

But amidst all the debate, oatmeal is the least of my worries. This is just my theory, but I would think a whole grain has a better chance of standing up to hot water than a vegetable. Plus, the insoluble fiber in oatmeal should fare well.

And the inside of your body isn’t exactly a refrigerator, so I think there must be some leeway with heating foods.

cooking vegetables

But you’re absolutely right about raw vs cooked nutrient claims. I really like this article because it covers a lot of the most interesting points, such as when cooked is better than raw and vice versa.

I try not to get caught up in that too much anymore, though, because there are so many variables it could drive one insane!

Personally I’d rather just eat whatever fruits and vegetables taste good than worry about what soil they were grown in, crop rotation procedures, pesticides, acid rain, freshness, packaging and shipping procedures, exact cooking procedures to ensure that the optimal percentage of Vitamin X is released for ideal digestion, etc.

I mean, I get as many vegetables straight out of the garden as I can, eggs from the local chickens, and go to friend’s farms for the rest, then I eat some raw and cook some lightly, get lycopene from the cooked tomatoes in pizza sauce, and wash pesticides off any fruits before eating.

But there comes a point when you have to ask yourself, is it really worth it? The stress of worrying about minute details is surely worse for your health than cooking your vegetables, right?

Sometimes I think these researchers are trying to get us to give up on vegetables! If I find out any of these studies were commissioned by Dunkin Donuts, we may know their motives! 😉

Although, with what the FDA is doing, store-bought vegetables will be completely devoid of nutrients anyway.

Back on topic… my view can be summed up like this:

It’s harder than ever to eat healthy, even if you eat all-natural and organic foods, with a diet high in fruits and vegetables. But there’s a point at which you go from “health conscious” to “clinically insane.”

For further reading on healthy diets, I suggest “5 Foods You Should Eliminate From Your Diet Completely!”

Photo credit: erix!

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coach levi
Hi, I'm Coach Levi. I'm a USA Cycling Certified Level 3 Coach as well as Level 1 Certified with Precision Nutrition. Want to feel better, ride faster, and look great? Let's work together!

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Coach Levi is my favorite child and favorite cycling coach. I'd choose him over Christoper McCarmikael even. Did I mention that Levi can coach you to a healthier lifestyle where you look and feel your best?
Coach Levi's Mom
Hometown, PA