These phytonutrients are very sensitive and tender. Disturbing their environment affects them. Bite into an apple and what happens? It turns brown because there is a release of this bio-activity when mixing with the oxygen in the air. If simply exposing these tender nutrients to air affects them, what about cooking them at 200 degrees, baking them at 400 degrees or to a lesser degree (I’m sorry) even steaming them. Yet, don’t look for a lot of support on this with the establishment. To agree that plant foods are alive is to give credence to a creator or giver of life who cannot be improved upon. If we live with respecting the true life in the food then our agricultural policies would have to change concerning food irradiation (radiating food before packaging), genetically modifying foods, and using “suicide seeds” that are engineered to not reproduce future crops (which, by the way, is an spiritual assault on Genesis 1:11) There is no question to their being affected by heat. But we are not done.
Vitamins and Minerals
As for the vitamins and minerals themselves, most studies agree that at least 50% of the B vitamins are destroyed by cooking. B1 and B12 losses have been recorded up to 96%, folic acid losses up to 97% and Vitamin C losses are approximately 70-80%. Even proteins, according to the Max Planck Institute in Germany, had loses up to 50%. But to be fair, this was when overcooked. Again, there can be no question about the effects of heat and cooking.
Direct Health Concerns
We have already discussed how cooking can hinder absorbing different minerals, but this same study also stated that it turned certain nutrients into substances that disrupt cellular function. This disruption can show itself through speeding up the aging process or in higher susceptibility to disease. The fats and oil structure can also be disrupted to produce carcinogenic effects (tending to produce cancer). For example, we can see these oil disruptions in the black, crusty parts in a stir-fry (and yes, I knooow that’s the tasty parts). Lastly, it produces free radicals which can cause future cellular damage.
A Word of Balance
Now, I am not writing to raise fear nor am I saying that we must be 100% raw and never cook or steam any plant based foods, but balance is a key. Try to eat fruits and vegetables raw, or lightly steamed, as much as possible. Nuts and seeds should be raw and to help with digestion can be soaked or sprouted (I will be writing more about sprouting later on). Beans and grains can also be soaked and sprouted, but honestly, these I cook. Find your purpose for what you are eating and follow after that. Eat to live, don’t just live to eat.
In any event, the best cooked foods are “cooked” by the sun and the natural state of all plant food is best for us whenever possible. Yet and still, the bottom line is that we were given all things richly to enjoy (1 Timothy 6:17). So please do not take this information legalistically. If you are cooking, then cook in peace without any condemnation from anyone and enjoy yourself. Also, I thank KLM for the enquire that sparked the writing of this article.
Prescription for dietary Wellness, Phyllis A. Balch, CNC
Health Secrets of Live Foods, Dr. Gabriel Cousens