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Is it healthier to eat raw veggies or to cook them? Is fresh broccoli more nutritious than frozen? Is eating iceberg lettuce a waste of time?
You may be surprised by the answers to these seemingly simple questions. In fact, there are several misconceptions when it comes to vegetables. The one universal truth is that most of us could be eating more of them.
As summer approaches, we have more vegetable choices than at any other time of year. Here's a guide to what's fact and what's fiction when it comes to eating your veggies.
Myth: Fresh vegetables are more nutritious than frozen
Fact: Studies show that sometimes you can get more nutrients from frozen veggies, depending on variety and how old the vegetables at your supermarket are. That's because produce starts losing nutrient quality as soon as it's picked.
Frozen vegetables are flash-frozen right after harvest so they are preserved at their peak of freshness when they are most nutritious. Your best bet in terms of taste, nutrition, and the environment is still local in-season produce. When that's not an option frozen can be a better choice (from a nutrient standpoint) than spinach that takes two weeks to reach your table.
Myth: Cooked veggies are less nutritious than raw
Fact: It depends on the vegetable. "Cooking destroys some nutrients, but it releases others," says Marion Nestle, author of What to Eat. It destroys vitamin C and folic acid, according to Nestle, which is why it's not a great idea to cook oranges.
On the other hand, she says, cooking releases vitamin A and the nutrients in fiber and makes them easier to digest. It's also easier for your body to absorb more lycopene, a cancer-fighting antioxidant, in cooked tomato sauce than from raw tomatoes.
Steam or roast veggies instead of boiling, which leaches out water-soluble vitamins into the cooking water.
Myth: Iceberg lettuce doesn't have any nutrients
Fact: Iceberg lettuce is mostly water so it's hardly loaded with vitamins, but a large head does contain small amounts of protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals.
You'll get more nutrients from other greens that have less water such as romaine or butterhead lettuce, but contrary to popular belief, iceberg lettuce does have some nutritional value.
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