Is it healthier to eat raw veggies or to cook them? Is fresh broccoli more nutritious than frozen? Are potatoes full of calories?
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.
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 lyocene, 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: Farmer's markets only have organics
Fact: Just because a vegetable (or anything for that matter) is sold at a farmers' market does not mean that it's organic.
Some farmers will say they are in the process of getting certified, they grow crops without synthetic chemicals but can't afford the certification process, or they only use chemicals when they have no choice and don't use them when it's close to harvest time. It's your call on whether you trust that farmer.
Myth: Potatoes make you fat
Fact: Potatoes are virtually fat-free and low in calories. These delicious and inexpensive root vegetables contain a healthy dose of fiber, which can actually make you feel satisfied for longer and help you lose weight.
It's not the potatoes themselves that make you fat. It's how you cook them and what you slather on your spuds that can cause you to pack on the pounds.