There is a whole process behind eating – preparation, biting into the food, chewing it, and then digestion. There are a lot of chemical and mechanical changes that are brought about by these steps on the food that we eat.
It affects the nutritional content of food and also the degree to which each of these nutrients will then be available for your body to absorb. Eating raw helps bring out and absorb the best when it comes to some nutrients, while for others, cooking, breaking down by crushing or cutting or even eating them along with other foods brings out the best nutrients.
Pairing Vitamins like A, D, E, and K with natural fats helps dissolve them and prepare them for easy absorption. However, you need to keep track of how much of these vitamins you consume as they get stored as fat in your liver, unlike water-soluble vitamins like C, B12, Folic acid, and biotin that get flushed out of your system when there is too much of them. Pairing foods like carrots, squash, and sweet potatoes (Vitamin A), mushrooms and eggs (Vitamin D), Swiss chard, asparagus, and spinach (vitamin E), and spinach, broccoli, and kale (Vitamin K) with olive oil, coconut oil, avocado,
mixed nuts, and/or butter gives you bonus points, and you will be scoring highly in this game of nutrition and healthy eating.
Pairing Iron with Vitamin C:
The iron that we get from animal sources like dark poultry and red meat is called Heme Iron, whereas we get from non-animal sources is called Nonheme Iron. Heme iron is more readily available for absorption than Nonheme Iron; however, pairing them with Vitamin C helps increase their absorption.
Pairing foods like soybeans, spinach, kale, and lentils with some lemon juice, strawberries, orange slices, or chili peppers help you score some nutrients.
Pairing Zinc and Iron with Sulfur:
It is best to eat foods rich in zinc and iron with sulfur-rich foods, as sulfur binds to these minerals and helps in their easy absorption. Therefore, foods like turkey, beef, and oysters (rich in zinc and iron) are best when paired with egg yolks, onion, and garlic.
Oxygen, light, and heat degrade nutrients. Storing fruits and vegetables in the right way helps to retain the nutrients for longer. All fruits, save for berries (including avocados and tomatoes), should be stored at room temperature and away from direct light
All vegetables, save for the root varieties, should be refrigerated until you use them. All cut fruits and vegetables should be stored in an airtight container with a dash of lemon juice on them, like Vitamin C, which is an antioxidant, slows down oxidation/decay.
The idea behind this is that heating food destroys natural enzymes and nutrients, which is bad as these enzymes help in digestion and also in fighting chronic diseases. So when you cook it, you basically kill it. This diet requires a high level of effort from your end, as the prep work will be extensive.
It makes sense to eat most sources of heat-sensitive and water-soluble nutrients raw, as it maximizes the absorption of these nutrients then. For instance, spinach eaten raw provides us with more vitamin C than cooked spinach. Moreover, water-soluble Vitamins C and B are lost when you boil them.
However, some foods actually tend to deliver more nutrients when cooked; for example, the lycopene found in tomatoes increases when they are boiled. Similarly, the bioavailability of beta carotene, which is found in carrots, sweet potatoes, spinach, and tomatoes, increases as their plant cell walls are broken down. Cooking denatures the proteins in meat and eggs, making them easier to digest. Iron and other minerals are more available upon cooking as cooking decreases acid oxalates, which otherwise makes these minerals inaccessible, by binding to them.
Moreover, don’t overcook your veggies. Using small amounts of water and low heat helps retain their nutrients better. Steaming, sautéing, roasting, blanching, microwaving, and baking are other forms of cooking that you can try.