Consumer Reports took a look at how to get the most nutrition from vegetables.
To get the most benefit from spinach, experts say to blanch the leaves lightly and then plunge them into cold water.
That reduces the levels of an acid present in the raw spinach that inhibits absorption of its nutrients.
“For some vegetables cooking breaks down the cell walls and that makes it easier for your body to absorb the nutrients,” said Trisha Calvo, Consumer Reports Health and Food Editor. “Take carrots for instance. When you cook them, you absorb about 14 percent more of the carotenoids, the antioxidants that they contain.”
Cooking white mushrooms just about doubles their levels of important nutrients like potassium, niacin, zinc and magnesium.
The list goes on – boiling asparagus just until they turn bright green boosts cancer-fighting antioxidants and phenolic acid.
And the same goes for tomatoes. One study found that cooking boosts the disease-fighting antioxidant called lycopene by about 35 percent and creates a deeper more intense flavor experience, too.
Consumer Reports recommends roasting them for about a half hour at 200 degrees Fahrenheit.
Keep in mind though that cooking veggies also can destroy some vitamins. For instance, the level of vitamin C goes down quite a bit in cooked tomatoes.
Bottom line: it is important to eat a wide variety of vegetables, both cooked and raw, to get as much of their good nutrients as possible.
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