Raw Vs Cooked Food – Which Is Better for Your Health?

fresh fruits and vegetables
Raw Vs Cooked Food – which is better for you?

“To cook or not to cook” – raw vs cooked food has been the widespread dilemma over the recent years. While raw diets have been getting a lot of attention and celebrities vouch for it too, purists argue that the discovery of fire was one of the best things to have happened for food and evolution of mankind. Which method is healthier, and which form has all the nutrients you need? Read on for the real scoop and err, no cooked-up theories 😉

Raw vs cooked food – the debate

Social media – especially Instagram community – has witnessed the rise of raw foodies – these individuals strongly advocate eating raw foods or foods that have not been heated beyond certain temperature (116°F or 46°C). Their contention about raw vs cooked food – raw vegetables are rich in enzymes which are natural anti-carcinogens and also aid easy digestion. However, is raw diet the right course to follow for your well-being and good health?

infographic or comparison chart between benefits of raw and cooked foods
Raw Vs Cooked – Which one is better for you?


Aside from denaturing the favoured enzymes present in raw foods, cooking also leads to loss of heat-sensitive nutrients like vitamin B & C. However, cooking methods like steaming, roasting etc help in retention of these nutrients, while boiling might result in loss of the same.

The phytonutrients present aplenty in raw veggies can also aid better mental health, a more positive outlook towards like and keep depression at bay.

a colorful buddha bowl with raw and cooked vegetables , sesame seeds and rice
Nourish Bowls can be super fun mix of raw as well as cooked elements! Thereby no debate of raw vs cooked food.


It is a fact that vegetables, fruits and most foods contain highest amount of nutrients in their raw state. Then it does make a lot of sense to shift to a raw foods diet – correct? Wrong! Ample research has pointed out that availability of nutrients does not necessarily translate into better absorption of nutrients. “It’s not about what you eat, but what you absorb”, says Michael Greger MD, the widely celebrated professional health speaker. A study conducted on European subjects pointed out that the amount of beta-carotene absorbed by those who ate cooked carrots once a day was decidedly higher than those who had 17 servings of raw vegetables in a single day, and hence were consuming a higher beta-carotene content per day. Raw foods like spinach have high oxalic acid content, which can in turn prevent the absorption of nutrients present in it.

Raw vs cooked food. Topshot of a lentil salad with colorful vegetables and feta cheese. This has both raw and cooked elements.
Lentil Vegetable Rainbow Salad – cooked lentils and raw vegetables make this bowl super pretty and wholesome too


Higher Absorption of Nutrients

Numerous studies point that the absorption of nutrients like beta-carotene (which our bodies can convert into Vitamin A), lutein (the wonder nutrient for the health of your eyes!) and ferulic acid (anti-carcinogens found in asparagus) is higher after the vegetables containing them are cooked. Cooking tomatoes increases the lycopene (helpful for heart and bone health) content that can be availed from them, while steaming spinach can reduce its oxalic acid content by 53%.

flatlay of peach walnut feta amaranth salad on a plate with a decorative spoon and balsamic vinaigrette dressing
Amaranth Peach Feta Walnut Salad – Some raw and some cooked elements = perfect nutrition

Better Digestibility

“But we said raw foods have digestion-aiding enzymes”! Confused? While raw foods do have these enzymes and cooking does denature these natural enzymes, human bodies are capable of producing digestive enzymes that break down the food into various components and harness nutrients. Cooking also breaks down tough cellulose to an extent, thus facilitating digestion, aiding chewing process and increasing the net energy value of food.

Raw Vs Cooked Food – Key is in Balance

Raw or Cooked – which way to go? The best strategy here is to balance the intake of raw and cooked foods. Choosing the middle pathway instead of resorting to either of the extremes can ensure that your meals are optimally balanced and chock-a-block with nutrition.

Top view of greek salad in black bowl with decorative spoon
The classic Greek Salad – great combination of raw veggies with some cheese and olive oil!

Check my well-researched and super informative guide to know which vegetables to eat raw and which ones to cook, and also the right way to cook your vegetables so as to get optimal nutrition from them.

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