What is Best? Cooked or Raw

My son, husband, and I were working at home one day last week when my husband volunteered to pick something up for lunch for all of us. Usually, we eat whatever we have in the house, so when he offered, my son and I let out an emphatic yes. Then we started the debate about what to get.

It was a cold August day here in Southern Marin County. It was even drizzling this morning. My husband and son eventually decided on ordering curry because it was warm and I ordered a favorite salad.

Raw vs Cooked
I am often asked if raw vegetables are better than cooked vegetables. In my last newsletter, I wrote about how cooking can help make some plant foods more nutritious, and how keeping some produce raw can help make other nutrients more bioavailable.

In Ayurvedic medicine, specific foods are heating or cooling foods that are chosen based on the individual’s constitution, any imbalances, and the time of year. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, foods are chosen by their energetic qualities and how they affect the individual’s body. Foods are heating or cooling, and they can also be damp or drying.

These ancient traditions can bring a lot of wisdom to our plate. They remind us that it is important to listen to your body and eat in a way that feels supportive and good for your own body.

On a typical hot summer day, a cold soup like gazpacho or a crunchy fresh salad might sound terrific, and on a cold day, a bowl of minestrone to help warm up might sound and taste much better. Today was cold and foggy and I still chose a salad that has a dressing with some heat for lunch while everyone else in my house chose a hot stew. It is what sounded good to me.

Cooked and Raw
As I mentioned earlier, sometimes certain nutrients are more bioavailable when vegetables are cooked and others when they are raw. Most days I try and incorporate a mix of raw and cooked foods into my diet and for the most part I recommend the same strategy to most of my clients. Maybe a cooked protein, a salad, and cooked vegetables at dinner, or a salad for lunch with some cold leftovers and just hot foods for dinner.

For some people, eating raw vegetables can be difficult to digest, and they may choose to eat just cooked vegetables, which is most supportive for their bodies. For others, colder foods feel better. Listen to your body, it will tell you what makes it hum.

We often get in a rut and eat the same things over and over again. In terms of health, variety is key – especially when it comes to plant foods. Plant foods are everything from vegetables, fruits, herbs, spices, nuts, seeds, legumes, beans, whole grains, and healthy fats such as olive oil, avocado, and coconut.

Each color and each varietal has a different set of nutrients. Are you eating all of the colors of the rainbow in a given week? If not, it might be time to rotate in some new plant foods or try some new recipes. It can take some work to break old habits, but the investment is worth it and you might even discover some new favorites.

To help me break out and add some new recipes and foods to my repertoire I committed to trying a new recipe or food each week. I have posted a lot of my new recipe experiments on my Instagram and Facebook pages. Check them out for some inspiration and please share what you are trying.

Next Steps
What we eat and how we prepare our foods are important pieces in building our health and wellness. My goal is to support my clients while they make changes in a doable, long-term way.  If you are interested in learning more book an exploratory call (for new clients) or a follow-up visit (for existing clients) at book an appointment so we can dive deeper together.