Raw vs. Cooked – Which Contains More Vitamins and Minerals?

Of course, in the grand scheme of a well-balanced, nutrient-dense, varied, whole foods diet, the cooked vs. raw debate isn’t that critical for most people.

Where this can become a consideration is for vitamin and mineral deficiencies (or “insufficiencies”). These may be due to digestion or absorption issues, or avoidance of certain foods (due to allergies, intolerances, or choice).

And I’ll tell you that the answer isn’t as simple as “raw is always better” or “cooked is always better.” As with most nutrition science, it depends on several factors. Some vitamins are destroyed in cooking, while others become easier to absorb (a.k.a. more “bioavailable”).

Here is the skinny on vitamins and minerals in raw foods versus cooked foods.

 

FOODS TO EAT RAW

As a general rule, water soluble nutrients, like vitamin C and the B vitamins, found mostly in fruits and vegetables, are best eaten raw.

The reason why is two-fold.

First, when these nutrients are heated, they tend to degrade; this is from any heat, be it steaming, boiling, roasting, or frying. Vitamin C and the B vitamins are a bit more “delicate” and susceptible to heat than many other nutrients.

Of course, the obvious way to combat these nutrient losses is to eat foods high vitamin C and B vitamins in their raw form (like in an awesome salad) or to cook them for as short a time as possible (like quickly steaming or blanching).

Fun fact: Raw spinach can contain three times the amount of vitamin C as cooked spinach.

The second reason why foods high in vitamin C and the B vitamins are best eaten raw is that they’re “water soluble.” So, guess where the vitamins go when they’re cooked in water? Yes, they’re dissolved right into the water; this is particularly true for fruits and veggies that are boiled and poached but even for foods that are steamed as well.

Of course, if you’re a savvy health nut, you’ll probably keep that liquid to use in your next soup or sauce to preserve those nutrients that are left after cooking. Just don’t overheat it or you may lose what you were aiming to keep.

But, how much loss are we talking about? Well, of course, it ranges but can go from as low as 15%, up to over 50%.

In short, the water soluble vitamins like vitamin C and the B vitamins degrade with heat and some of what’s left over after they’re heated dissolves into the cooking water. So be sure to cook your fruits and veggies as little as possible, and keep that cooking water to use in your next recipe.

 

SOAKING NUTS AND SEEDS

Regarding raw nuts and seeds, it may be beneficial to soak them. Soaking nuts and seeds (for several hours at room temperature) allows some of the minerals to become “unlocked” from their chemical structure, so they’re more absorbable.

 

FOODS TO EAT COOKED

Cooking certain orange and red “beta-carotene rich” veggies (e.g. tomatoes, carrots, & sweet potatoes) can help make this pre-vitamin A compound more absorbable.

Fun fact: One study found that absorption of beta-carotene was 6.5 times greater in stir-fried carrots than in raw carrots!

Of course, eating your fat-soluble vitamins with a bit of fat will help you to absorb more of them, so that’s another factor to consider too.

 

ONE VEGETABLE THAT’S BEST EATEN BOTH RAW AND COOKED

Spinach!

And I’m not just saying this to get everyone to eat it any way possible (although, I would love for this to happen…unless you’re allergic, of course).

Spinach contains so many beneficial compounds that it’s great eaten both raw and cooked.

Eating raw spinach preserves the water-soluble vitamins C & the B vitamins.

Eating spinach cooked allows the pre-vitamin A, as well as some of the minerals like iron to be better absorbed. Not to mention how much spinach reduces in size when it’s cooked, so it’s easier to eat way more cooked spinach than raw spinach.

 

CONCLUSION:

The old nutrition philosophy of making sure you get a lot of nutrient-dense whole foods into your diet holds true. Feel free to mix up how you eat them, whether you prefer raw or cooked just make sure you eat them.

 

RECIPE: SAUTEED SPINACH
Serves 4

INGREDIENTS

2 teaspoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic
1 bag baby spinach leaves
1 dash salt
1 dash black pepper
Fresh lemon

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. In a large cast iron pan heat olive oil.
  2. Add garlic and saute for 1 minute.
  3. Add spinach, salt, pepper and toss with garlic and oil.
  4. Cover pan and cook on low for about 2 minutes.
  5. Saute cook spinach for another minute, stirring frequently, until all the spinach is wilted.
  6. Squeeze fresh lemon juice on top.

Serve & enjoy!

Tip: Enjoying the cooked spinach with the vitamin C in the “raw” lemon juice helps your body absorb more of the iron.

Raw vs. Cooked - Which Contains More Vitamins and Minerals?
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 bag baby spinach leaves
  • 1 dash salt
  • 1 dash black pepper
  • Fresh lemon
Instructions
  1. In a large cast iron pan heat olive oil.
  2. Add garlic and saute for 1 minute.
  3. Add spinach, salt, pepper and toss with garlic and oil.
  4. Cover pan and cook on low for about 2 minutes.
  5. Saute cooked spinach for another minute, stirring frequently, until all the spinach is wilted.
  6. Squeeze fresh lemon juice on top.
  7. Serve & enjoy!
  8. Tip: Enjoying the cooked spinach with the vitamin C in the “raw” lemon juice helps your body absorb more of the iron.

 

References:

https://authoritynutrition.com/cooking-nutrient-content/

http://www.precisionnutrition.com/10-ways-to-get-the-most-nutrients

About Me


Hi, I’m Tracy! I create food solutions to feed your life goals. I’m a Nutritionist, chocoholic + superhero fan. Mom to three, wife to one, crazy about all four, and food! When you work with me you’ll learn to savour life and nourish all that it has to offer.

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1 day ago

Tracy Houle Nutrition
Who says smoothies always have to be red or green, with the right ingredients, beige is ok too!😉
✨
Adding Fennel to your morning, or dinner smoothie is a great idea to soothe digestive troubles. It also helps relieve water retention and regulates female hormones. It’s a low calorie source of Vitamin C, dietary fibre, potassium and jam-packed with anti-inflammatory volatile oils!
🌟
Pineapple has very similar properties with its digestive aid, Bromelain, and is a good source of manganese, which boosts men’s fertility. 👶🏻
💫
I included banana for a sweet and creamy flavour, hemp seeds for protein, and my favourite vanilla flavoured fermented protein powder from Genuine Health I also used unsweetened coconut milk!🥥
⚡️
This is also a super-duper post workout smoothie!
💪
P.S. The kids had no idea fennel was in there!! 👦🏻👧🏻👦🏻 Everything completely masked the flavour! 👍
.
.
.
.
#paleo #paleogirl #fruit #fennel #deliciousfood #smoothie #fasting #kitchengoals #cleaneating #kids #getyourkidsonboard #guthealth #food52 #huffpostfood #realfood #fermentedproteinpowder #happy #mornings #wellnesscoach #yummy  @ Oakville, OntarioImage attachment

Who says smoothies always have to be red or green, with the right ingredients, beige is ok too!😉

Adding Fennel to your morning, or dinner smoothie is a great idea to soothe digestive troubles. It also helps relieve water retention and regulates female hormones. It’s a low calorie source of Vitamin C, dietary fibre, potassium and jam-packed with anti-inflammatory volatile oils!
🌟
Pineapple has very similar properties with its digestive aid, Bromelain, and is a good source of manganese, which boosts men’s fertility. 👶🏻
💫
I included banana for a sweet and creamy flavour, hemp seeds for protein, and my favourite vanilla flavoured fermented protein powder from Genuine Health I also used unsweetened coconut milk!🥥
⚡️
This is also a super-duper post workout smoothie!
💪
P.S. The kids had no idea fennel was in there!! 👦🏻👧🏻👦🏻 Everything completely masked the flavour! 👍
.
.
.
.
#paleo #paleogirl #fruit #fennel #deliciousfood #smoothie #fasting #kitchengoals #cleaneating #kids #getyourkidsonboard #guthealth #food52 #huffpostfood #realfood #fermentedproteinpowder #happy #mornings #wellnesscoach #yummy @ Oakville, Ontario
... See MoreSee Less

I had an epic day with boy today!! Girl and boy 2 #birdbox were at school 🏫 😉...couldn’t resist 🤷🏻‍♀️
👦🏻
First, we finished making this full flavoured chicken bone broth because when the kids get back to school is when the real healing begins, so why not boost it with liquid gold!
😉😆
Let me tell you what else my 12-year-old got up to on his last vacation day, and if it’s sounds like I’m bragging, it’s because I am.
🧚🏻‍♂️🌈🦄
He changed his bed sheets, washed his sheets, washed his laundry, folded and put it all away, did about an hour of homework review, and then hit the grocery store with me, got his own cart and went around the store collecting my short list of about 10 things, by himself - you’re welcome future wife!
🧘🏻‍♀️
Back to bone broth:
Use it to treat
• leaky gut syndrome
• overcome food intolerances & allergies
• Improve joint health
• Reduce cellulite 🤯 (thanks to the collagen)
• Boost your immune system!
😷
RECIPE
whole chicken carcass
3 celery stalks, chopped
3 carrots, chopped
1 Onion, chopped or quartered
5 garlic cloves, peel on and smashed
1 teaspoon Himalayan salt
INSTRUCTIONS
1. Place all ingredients in an 8-quart slow cooker
2. Add water to fill
3. Simmer for 24-48 hours
4. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly. 
5. Discard solids, skim fat, and strain into mason jars or bowl.
6. Let stock cool to room temperature, cover and chill.
*Use within a week or store in freezer up to 3 months
.
.
.
.
#cleaneating #bonebroth #collagen #skincare #glow #immunityboost #kidslearnfast #boysandgirls #family #guthealth #glutenfree #lifestyle #digestivehealth #holistic #oakville #getyourkidsonboard #delicious

I had an epic day with boy today!! Girl and boy 2 #birdbox were at school 🏫 😉...couldn’t resist 🤷🏻‍♀️
👦🏻
First, we finished making this full flavoured chicken bone broth because when the kids get back to school is when the real healing begins, so why not boost it with liquid gold!
😉😆
Let me tell you what else my 12-year-old got up to on his last vacation day, and if it’s sounds like I’m bragging, it’s because I am.
🧚🏻‍♂️🌈🦄
He changed his bed sheets, washed his sheets, washed his laundry, folded and put it all away, did about an hour of homework review, and then hit the grocery store with me, got his own cart and went around the store collecting my short list of about 10 things, by himself - you’re welcome future wife!
🧘🏻‍♀️
Back to bone broth:
Use it to treat
• leaky gut syndrome
• overcome food intolerances & allergies
• Improve joint health
• Reduce cellulite 🤯 (thanks to the collagen)
• Boost your immune system!
😷
RECIPE
whole chicken carcass
3 celery stalks, chopped
3 carrots, chopped
1 Onion, chopped or quartered
5 garlic cloves, peel on and smashed
1 teaspoon Himalayan salt
INSTRUCTIONS
1. Place all ingredients in an 8-quart slow cooker
2. Add water to fill
3. Simmer for 24-48 hours
4. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly.
5. Discard solids, skim fat, and strain into mason jars or bowl.
6. Let stock cool to room temperature, cover and chill.
*Use within a week or store in freezer up to 3 months
.
.
.
.
#cleaneating #bonebroth #collagen #skincare #glow #immunityboost #kidslearnfast #boysandgirls #family #guthealth #glutenfree #lifestyle #digestivehealth #holistic #oakville #getyourkidsonboard #delicious
... See MoreSee Less

 

Comment on Facebook

So delicious

I knew I always liked Dante, what a kid Going to go try the broth recipe out

2 weeks ago

Tracy Houle Nutrition
I love Canada, but I was made for the ocean air, sandy beach, and palm trees. 
🏝
Nothing beats spending the last day of 2018 without a care in the world!
😎
Wishing everyone a happy, healthy, and prosperous new year!🎆
🥳
#beachlife🌴 #reef #vitaminsea #familygoals #staycation #celebrate #oceanside #livenow #inthemoment
 @ The Reef at Atlantis in the BahamasImage attachmentImage attachment

I love Canada, but I was made for the ocean air, sandy beach, and palm trees.
🏝
Nothing beats spending the last day of 2018 without a care in the world!
😎
Wishing everyone a happy, healthy, and prosperous new year!🎆
🥳
#beachlife🌴 #reef #vitaminsea #familygoals #staycation #celebrate #oceanside #livenow #inthemoment
@ The Reef at Atlantis in the Bahamas
... See MoreSee Less

 

Comment on Facebook

Happy New Year 🥳

Very nice pictures I love the red sea and the ocean! Enjoy !

Happy new year guys ! Enjoy the sun !

Happy new year!! Love Atlantis.

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