Raw veg debate heats up
A healthy diet begins with getting enough fruit and vegetables, we all know that. How much you should eat is up for debate, with some claiming five isn't enough and you should be aiming for around ten. But one thing we can agree on is that raw is best - or is it?
It was long thought that munching on uncooked vegetables was the best way to ensure your body absorbed all their goodness. However, it's now been suggested that certain varieties actually do more for you if you heat them first.
Nutrition expert Mel Wakeman is Senior Lecturer in Applied Physiology at Birmingham City University and has explained why this might be.
"Many of the nutrients found in plants are often less readily absorbed in the gut compared to nutrients derived from animal products. The fibre found in plants often binds particularly to minerals and makes them less available for the body to use (their bioavailability)," she told British newspaper The Daily Mail's Femail section.
"Heating can help to breakdown the fibre and so release some of the minerals for absorption, and can often increase the phytochemical content of plants which can provide additional non-nutrient benefits to our health."
Among the varieties which it's suggested could improve with heat are spinach, carrots, tomatoes, mushrooms and asparagus.
For example, warming tomatoes increases the level of lycopene in them, which has in turn been linked to helping cut the risk of prostate cancer. But the problem is that while cooking boosts that, it also reduces other nutrients. That's why it's important to eat fruit and vegetables in different ways, sometimes hot and others not.
Carrots are packed with antioxidant carotenoid, which gets increased when they are cooked, and heating spinach might make it easier for the body to absorb the iron in it.
And that's not the only fruit and veg news doing the rounds at the moment. A study conducted for the BBC by people at Kew Gardens has found what many have argued for ages - items grown at home really are tastier and healthier than those from supermarkets.
It was found that tomatoes grown in the own back garden had more natural sugar, antioxidants and certain nutrients than those created in bulk by manufacturers.