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Does cooking destroy the nutrients in food?

+2 votes
asked 5 years ago by michael (7,930 points)

3 Answers

+1 vote
Actually, no.  Many people, particularly those who advocate the 'raw food' diet claim that cooking destroys up to 50% of the nutrients found in food, including protein, minerals and vitamins. This is not true.

Cooking does not destroy minerals nor proteins.  Whilst it is true that some vitamins can be lost in cooking (particularly if food is over-cooked) but this loss is minimal in a healthy balanced diet.  In fact for some foods, such as carrots and tomatoes, cooking them before eating actually increases their nutritional value.

Cooked tomatoes contain far more lycopene than raw tomatoes.  Lycopene is a useful antioxidant.  Cooked carrots have higher levels of antioxidants than raw carrots.

Cooking carrots in a little fat such as oil or butter also increases the amount of beta-carotene and phenolic acid you can get from the vegetable. Beta carotene helps with the absorption of vitamin A and phenolic acid helps to strengthen cells and prevent cell decay.

Plus, whist it is true that fruit and vegetable enzymes are destroyed by cooking, these enzymes are of no use to our body anyway.  

So, to answer your question, no cooking does not destroy the nutrients in food.
answered 5 years ago by SelenaK (18,020 points)
0 votes
Enzymes are VERY useful to our body. According to the American Institute for Cancer Research, enzymes are believed to have an inhibitory effect on changes in DNA that can progress to cancer. The AICR recommends boosting enzyme intake. The best way to do this is to increase consumption of raw produce. They don't say go raw. They simply say eat MORE raw vegetables, and fruit in whole, unprocessed form.

Enzymes are key compounds and are not to be dismissed as non-important. Cooking outright destroys enzymes.

The fact that only a few foods (namely, carrots and tomatoes) have more absorbable betacarotene and lycopene, respectively, after being cooked, should not be used as an argument against eating raw vegetables.

Raw is the food in natural form, and early man ate a largely raw diet. Our bodies were designed to eat raw. We are the only animal species that eats cooked food -- NO animal in its natural habitat eats cooked food! No herbivores, no omnivores, no carnivores.

Why, then, would man be the only animal who should eat cooked plant foods?
answered 5 years ago by Jaemie (13,470 points)
0 votes
Not generally enough to make it worth the risk! In the case of meat, humans do of course need to cook it because it destroys the bacteria in it that would cause digestive problems. (raw hamburger or chicken are probably the worst offenders.)

In the case of raw veggies and fruits, some nutrients CAN be lost, but again, not enough to make it worth skipping altogether. As some people have already pointed out, some veggies gain more nutrients from cooking (since the nutrients are released in the heating process), while others only lose a bit. If you want to minimize nutrient loss in things like peas and corn, try steaming your vegetables instead of boiling them; this preserves more nutrition and tastes better (At least in my opinion).

Raw food advocates often push the idea of eating all raw food, but neglect to remember that we're no longer 'built' to handle things like nearly raw meat. And given the amount of crap which things like cows eat, raw milk isn't always a good idea either unless you know where your cow came from and what it's been eating!

So no, cooking won't destroy the nutrition in the food you eat, or at least not enough to worry about it.
answered 5 years ago by Tanashai (19,160 points)
Some nutrient loss occurs during cooking. The key is to eat a combination of cooked and raw vegetables. Certain nutrients are only available in uncooked food and certain nutrients are only available in cooked foods.

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