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 fatA 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.MORE: Recipes for Beautiful SkinCarrots – keep em’ wholeThey’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 boilA 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.MORE: Get the Most Beauty Out of Your FoodGarlic – crush and waitOne of the biggest kings in the allium family is garlic. This super vegetable has been shown to decrease your cardiovascular disease and cancer risk, reduce your incidence of infection and knock down inflammation in the body—but getting the most out of garlic involves a bit of crushing. Although a clove of roasted garlic sounds fabulous, crushing it beforehand (as well as letting it sit for ten minutes) has been shown to boost garlic’s benefit. A study in the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry found that freshly crushed garlic (not processed crushed garlic) had superior cardio-protective properties to whole cloves.Corn – high time, high timeWho doesn’t love corn on the cob that is grilled to perfection on the grill? But have you been watching how long you’re cooking the corn, or how high the heat is? If not, you should start! In 2002, researchers found that cooking corn for at least an hour at high temperatures yielded more cancer fighting benefits than when cooked for shorter amounts of time.QUIZ: What’s Your Eating Style?Eggs – cook fully Alright, they are not a veggie, but cooking them properly is crucial to getting the most benefits for your mane. The yolks of eggs are a great source of Biotin, a B vitamin that is associated with fabulous strong, shiny hair. The problem is, biotin in eggs is basically hidden and not absorbed when it is in the presence of another protein in eggs called avidin. Heat deactivates avidin however, so cooking eggs fully will bring biotin back in the absorption lime light. For the best biotin in eggs, never eat eggs raw and always cook fully. By the way, cooking your eggs fully will help to reduce your risk of salmonella as well.Frying – a real beauty blunderDo you engage in aging cooking? If you fry your foods, or eat fried foods when you’re out, you may be in trouble. Experts have found that when foods are fried, even healthy foods (think fried zucchini), the properties of healthy foods were significantly decreased and the formation of free radicals (these guys are very unpretty) were increased.COLUMN: Cook for Fewer Wrinkles, by Chef Jim Perko