Dinnertime: Not all raw veggies are better for you

Variety of cooked, raw vegetables recommended

SAN ANTONIO – We all know we should eat our vegetables, and we typically think raw ones are better for us, but that’s not always the case.

Since forever, children have been told to eat their spinach to get the maximum benefit of calcium and iron. Consumer Reports said parents should blanch the leaves lightly and then plunge them in cold water. That reduces the levels of an acid in raw spinach that inhibits the absorption of nutrients.

“For some vegetables, cooking breaks down the cell walls and that makes it easier for your body to absorb the nutrients. Take carrots for instance. When you cook them, you absorb about 14 percent more of the carotenoids, the antioxidants that they contain,” said Trish Calvo, Consumer Reports’ health and food editor.

Cooking white mushrooms just about doubles their levels of important nutrients, such as potassium, niacin, zinc and magnesium.

Boiling asparagus just until it turns bright green boosts cancer-fighting antioxidants and phenolic acid. The same goes for tomatoes. One study found that cooking boosts the disease-fighting antioxidant called lycopene by about 35 percent.

Consumer Reports recommends roasting tomatoes for about a half-hour at 200 degrees. Cooking them enhances their flavor, as well.

Cooking can also destroy vitamins. For instance, the level of vitamin C goes down quite a bit in cooked tomatoes, so it’s best to eat a variety of both cooked and raw vegetables.

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