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Cooked vs. Raw: Which is Better for your Health?

In the world of dietary extremes, people always want to hear definitive, clear answers to complicated questions. As a result, there tends to be polarizing views on a number of issues where the truth generally seems to lie somewhere in the middle. One such issue is the debate over raw food versus cooked food. Raw food advocates insist that cooking food (or heating it over a certain temperature) goes against our very nature as humans. On the contrary, cooked food advocates argue that the cooking of food changes it chemically, and in doing so causes certain reactions which help our bodies in digestion. So which is true?

Let’s consider the raw food diet. Recent studies have suggested that raw food should make up the majority of a balanced diet. Many foods, when cooked, lose much of the nutrients that they inherently possessed. Thus, by cooking these foods, we are removing any potential benefits that we have received from consuming the food. Eating these foods raw allows us to get the full benefit of the enzymes natural to the foods. This is particularly true with many fruits and vegetables.

However, cooked food advocates would argue that other foodstuffs are only so beneficial to us because of the cooking process, and they would be right. Certain fruits, like tomatoes, release certain antioxidants when heated. These antioxidants are extremely helpful in reducing the risk of cancerous cells growing in our body. Similarly, some vegetables like asparagus also release more nutrients when boiled or steamed than in their raw form. This would lend further weight to the argument that cooked foods are better for your long term health.

So, again we ask, which is true?

As with many dietary this or that questions, the answer is somewhere in the middle. There are some foods that are better eaten raw. On the other side, there are some foods that are better cooked. What does this tell us? Well, we should probably eat some raw foods and some cooked foods. Yes, it really is that simple. There is no right or wrong absolute approach, merely common sense. If cooking a food is better for you, then you should cook it. If eating it raw is more beneficial, then eat it raw. As any health guru should tell you, the key to healthy eating is all about balance. That balance includes a balance between cooked and raw.

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