Raw, Juiced, Blended, Cooked: What’s the best way to eat fruits and vegetables?

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Fruits and vegetables take up 50% of MyPlate for a reason. They are a vital part of life and give your body the nutrients it needs to stay healthy. It’s important that you’re incorporating them into your diet daily. It’s a good thing there is a variety of choices! The number of fruits and vegetables that exist in the world are in the thousands, and there are so many different ways to prepare them.

The question of this article is, which way is the healthiest? Read the benefits of raw, juiced, blended and cooked fruits and vegetables.

Raw

A big benefit of consuming raw fruits is natural sugars are connected to fiber. Fiber is an important because it keeps you feeling full and helps your body to turn natural sugars into energy, not fat. Never feel bad about sugar you get from fruits! Our rule: unlimited raw fruits and vegetables.

Your digestive system has an extensive process for breaking down foods, but it all starts in your mouth – with chewing! When consuming raw fruits and vegetables in their original form it’s important that you chew thoroughly. When you chew, enzymes are released that help your digestive system process the food.

The more you chew, the better your body will feel; the more nutrients you will absorb; the more energy you will have. Chewing thoroughly can help you avoid indigestion, abdominal pain, heartburn, weight gain and other digestive problems.

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Juiced

When fruits and vegetables are juiced, your body is able to process the most nutrients. Your digestive system doesn’t have to work as hard to break down the foods. Nutrients are absorbed quickly and in higher quantity.

Juicing also removes all fibers from the drink, so a juice wouldn’t supplement a meal. You’ll still need calories to feel full.

Once fruits and vegetables are juiced, you have about 8 minutes to drink them before the live enzymes begin to die. We know you may want to sip and enjoy it over the next hour…but chug that drink! The sooner you drink the juice, the more health benefits your body will receive.

You may have heard processed fruit juices or juice cocktails are not healthy for you. There are many reasons for this. After they are juiced, they go through a long process of pasteurization, dehydration, freezing, thawing, dilution and reconstitution. Most juices are packed with added sugar. Natural sugars are no longer connected to fibers. Live enzymes and vitamins are no longer active.

If you want the benefits of juiced fruits and vegetables, buy a juicer for your home or find a local pressed juicery that you trust.

Blended

Yum! Nothing is as satisfying as a smoothie when you’re craving something sweet between meals.

When you blend your foods, fibers are still present so you stay fuller longer. It’s also much easier to drink your 3 to 5 servings of fruit if it’s blended.

You’ll want to limit smoothies to one per day. Although blending helps your body digest nutrients better than chewing, blenders can also disrupt the bond of natural sugars to fibers and a spike in blood sugar can occur. If you’re worried about your sugar intake, stick to temperate fruits like berries, apples, pears, peaches. Tropical fruits like bananas, pineapples and mangos have a higher sugar content.

Be careful where you’re getting your blended treat. Smoothie shops can add sugary sorbets and sweeteners to your drink. When making blended drinks at home, substitute sugar for honey and ice cream for reduced fat milk. You’ll still get that sweet and creamy flavor, without the guilt.

 

Cooked

There’s a simple reason people like to cook their fruits and vegetables…they taste delicious. Fruits turn into warm, yummy desserts. Vegetables become soft and full of flavor. Just because cooking vegetables makes them taste better doesn’t mean it makes them less nutritious.

There are benefits to cooking carrots, spinach, mushrooms, asparagus, cabbage, potatoes, peppers, broccoli, cauliflower and more! Some vegetables are harder for our bodies to break down in their raw form. Steaming and boiling helps break down a plant’s thick cell walls and brings out good nutrients and antioxidants.

Some nutrients are brought out when vegetables are cooked, and others are diminished. For example, cooking carrots increases their level of beta-carotene. This antioxidant converts to vitamin A and helps your vision, bones, reproductive organs and immune system. On the other hand, boiling carrots decreases polyphenols, a group of chemicals with antioxidant properties shown to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and cancer.  Make sure to supplement cooked fruits and vegetables with raw ones to ensure you’re getting all the nutrition your body needs.

If our veggies tastes better, then we’re more likely to eat them. It’s better to eat cooked veggies than no veggies at all.