Steamed vegetables vs raw: What is healthier?

The debate over steamed and raw vegetables has been going on for long. Know what an expert has to say about health benefits of steamed vegetables.
steamed vegetables benefits
Steamed vegetables are easier to digest. Image courtesy: Adobe Stock
Natalia Ningthoujam Published: 10 Jan 2023, 08:59 am IST
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Your body needs vitamins and minerals, and vegetables provide all this and more. Be it a vision-related issue or desire for glowing skin or weight loss journey, vegetables play a massive role. But a lot has been said about the way vegetables should be cooked. Some say steaming vegetables is the best way to lock the nutrients, others say that eating raw greens is more beneficial to health. One can think of eating carrots or radish raw, but what about other vegetables? Will steaming vegetables kill the nutrients needed by our body? An expert shares what should we go for to get the most from vegetables.

When we are in the kitchen, we use different cooking methods like steaming, microwaving, boiling, stir-frying, and frying.

According to Journal of Zheijang University Science, a study was done on the nutrients and health-promoting compounds of broccoli. The results showed that all cooking methods, except steaming, caused significant losses of vitamin C and chlorophyll. There was a significant decrease of total soluble proteins as well as soluble sugars too. Even aliphatic and indole glucosinolates were significantly modified by all cooking methods but not by steaming. This clearly shows that steaming vegetables, especially broccoli, is much better for health.

steamed vegetables
There are many benefits of steamed vegetables. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

To know more, Health Shots reached out to Khushboo Sahijwani Matta, a diet and nutrition consultant, Mumbai.

Benefits of steamed vegetables

You just need chopped vegetables and a steamer basket with a pan to steam vegetables.

Here are some of the benefits of steaming vegetables –

1. Quicker cooking method

According to the nutrition expert, steaming vegetables is a safer and quicker cooking method as compared to other methods of cooking. She is particularly against frying (why fried food is bad for you) as most of the nutrients get lost when you cook food in a lot of oil. Steaming vegetables takes just a few minutes.

2. Steaming retains majority of the nutrientsz

Steaming retains most of the nutrients like niacin, beta carotene, pantothenic acid as well as Vitamin C (benefits of Vitamin C) that are found in vegetables. Since they are water soluble, steaming helps leaching them in water and getting absorbed.

3. Steamed vegetables ease digestion

Digestion becomes easier, especially in the case of some of the vegetables like broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower. Steaming makes the vegetables soft, so it doesn’t take long to digest food. Raw vegetables, on the other hand, is not accepted well by everyone’s digestive system.

4. Steaming retains colour and texture of the vegetables

When you steam vegetables perfectly, the colour and texture remain intact. But the expert says that over steaming will leach out the colour. Matta says that some of the enzymes need to be activated by cooking methods like steaming to enhance the texture, flavour and digestive quotient.

raw vegetables
Go for steamed vegetables instead of raw ones. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

Many like to start their day by eating raw sprouts as they think it is a healthy habit. But the expert says that steamed sprouts will enhance the vitamin C and make digestion 100 percent safer as compared to eating them raw. Otherwise, it can cause a lot of bloating and flatulence.

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Also, when you eat raw vegetables, safety and sanitation become big concerns due to bacterial contamination.

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About the Author

Natalia Ningthoujam has written on various subjects - from music to films and fashion to lifestyle - as a journalist in her career that started in 2010. After getting stories from the crime scene, police headquarters, and conducting interviews with celebrities, she is now writing on health and wellness which has become her focus area. ...Read More

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