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Eating Raw Foods

Is uncooked healthier?

When Cooking Is Better

Raw isn't always best. Sometimes cooked foods give you more nutrients for the buck, say Rutgers University and Taiwanese researchers at last spring's annual American Chemical Society meeting in San Francisco. They found that the body more easily absorbs iron from 37 of 48 vegetables tested when they're boiled, stir-fried, steamed, or grilled. Of note, the absorbable iron in cabbage jumped from 6.7% to 27% with cooking. That of broccoli flowerets rose from 6% to 30%.

Surprisingly, tomatoes may also be best not in the salad, but in the sauce. A study published in the December 6, 1995 issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute found that eating cooked tomatoes could improve your chances of avoiding prostate cancer. Harvard researchers studied men who ate lots of tomato sauce, including that in foods like pizza and spaghetti. Those who ate at least 10 servings of tomato sauce every week were 45% less likely to develop prostate cancer than men who ate fewer servings.

Let's Get Serious

However, don't get bogged down with figuring out yet another diet or baffled over how to cook (or not cook) your veggies or fruits. What's most important is that you actually eat them: 3 to 5 servings of vegetables and 2 to 4 servings of fruit every day, as recommended by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. This amount is a far cry from the 3.6 servings of fruits and vegetables, combined, that Americans are now getting.

The raw foods diet might help bring you above the average American's intake. At least that's what I've found. After following it for a month, I'm eating more fruits and vegetables, though not necessarily raw (I sometimes steam or grill them). I have more energy. I'm spending less at the grocery store (processed snacks are alarmingly expensive) and crave less sugar and fat. I've even lost a little weight -- it's almost impossible to overeat crudit?s.

No matter how you slice it, making room for raw isn't doing me any harm. On the contrary, it's most likely doing some good.


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