You probably already know that having lots of vegetables in your diet sets you up for better overall health, weight management, and radiant inner and outer beauty, but did you know that the way in which you prepare your veggies may actually help (or hinder) their overall benefit to you? As it turns out, your preparation of a vegetable is just as important as the type of vegetable you are consuming. Greens, for example, provide more nutrients steamed than cooked, and so having a raw salad of greens is actually not as beneficial to your health as one that is slightly cooked. There are plenty of other veggies where the right prep will make all the difference. To make sure you are getting the most beautifying nutrients in your eat pretty diet, read on!
Tomatoes – chop, heat, and add fat
A study in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry found that tomatoes, in their raw state, were not as beneficial as tomatoes that were exposed to heat. The discovery had everything to do with the lycopene; a carotenoid found in tomatoes has been shown to help in the reduction of some cancers, cardiovascular disease and macular degeneration. Lycopene also plays a role in great skin by protecting skin from environmental damage. Lycopene is found in the cell wall of the tomato and chopping into a juicy one right out of your garden does not provide what is needed to extract that lycopene out of the wall. But, adding heat to the tomato (think cooked tomato sauce) helps to bring the lycopene out of the tomato and into your cells for optimal health benefit. In addition to adding heat, experts have shown that chopping tomatoes and adding a healthy fat, such as olive oil, enhance lycopene absorption even further.
Carrots – keep em’ whole
They’re a great snack when you're on the run and add subtle sweetness to stews and casseroles, but did you know that chopping them is actually hurting their overall nutrient value? A study out of the United Kingdom found that carrots cooked whole had higher antioxidant values and actually tasted better than carrots that were chopped before cooking. Researchers found that cutting the carrots increased surface size and actually caused them to leach more nutrients into the water when being cooked.
Broccoli – steam, don’t boil
A study in the Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics found that participants enjoyed the taste of steamed broccoli over boiled or raw broccoli. Further, steaming this cancer fighting veggie helped the fiber-related components in broccoli do a better job of binding together with bile acids in the digestive tract. Boiling broccoli seemed to have the opposite effect and severally damaged the anti-cancer properties of the cruciferous veggie.
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