Q: Which veggies are healthier cooked?
Oz Says: Think red and orange. Some compounds in tomatoes and carrots get a boost from the heat. "Vitamins and minerals are usually 'locked' inside fibrous plant cell walls," explains Mary Ellen Camire, PhD, a professor of food science and human nutrition at the University of Maine. Cooking helps break down these walls so your body can absorb the good stuff — namely, lycopene from tomatoes and beta-carotene in carrots. Eggplants and artichokes also get better under fire (not that you'd eat them raw). Just beware: Certain prep and heating methods destroy vitamins. Use these strategies to keep a happy nutrient balance.
- Steam, stir-fry, or roast. Methods that use high heat retain vitamins better than stewing over low heat or boiling for a long period of time, says Camire.
- Roast veggies in big chunks. The smaller you cut them, the more of their healthy ingredients you lose to air and heat.
- Heat carrots to help you better absorb nutrients that may lower cancer and heart disease risk.
- Cook tomatoes to unlock lycopene, which may help protect against strokes and heart disease.
- Keep the skin on when roasting eggplant to preserve more of the vitamins.
This story originally appeared in the October 2016 issue of Dr. Oz The Good Life.
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