Dr. Thomson explains if raw food with carotenoids are healthier than cooked food with carotenoids.
So that’s kind of a tricky question because it depends on the carotenoid. We all remember the reports on lycopene that came out almost a decade ago now that suggest that lycopene in itself is actually more bioavailable when it’s cooked. Certain bioactives in plant foods become more available when we eat the food, when we cook the food, when we manipulate the food.
So what I tell people is that you don’t need to keep a large chart on your wall and say, “Well wait, I am eating tomatoes tonight; what do I need to do? I am eating garlic; what should I do?” But what you should do is basically if you prefer them raw, that’s fine. Eat plenty–that’s really the message we want to get out.
When you cook, cook kind of al dente–don’t boil vegetables in water and lose a lot of those water-soluble nutrients or bioactives, and just make sure that you get that variety, and don’t get yourself so compulsive about vegetables that you can’t enjoy them.
About Dr. Thomson, Ph.D., R.D.:
Dr. Cynthia Thomson, Ph.D., R.D., is an Associate Professor in the Department of Nutritional Sciences at the University of Arizona. She is a registered dietitian with a doctoral degree in nutritional sciences. She has been conducting cancer research since 1994. Dr. Thomson was diagnosed with colorectal cancer in 2003.