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Some veggies get nutritional boost from cooking, Consumer Reports says

If you think raw veggies are healthier than cooked, you might want to get out your skillets.

Posted Updated

Monica Laliberte
, WRAL consumer reporter

If you think raw veggies are healthier than cooked, you might want to get out your skillets.

Consumer Reports found that a little bit of heat can release extra nutrients from some vegetables. But other veggies are best left raw.

The magazine said spinach, which is rich in calcium and iron, is one vegetable that gets a boost from blanching. Briefly drop the leaves into boiling water and then plunge them into cold water, Consumer Reports said, to reduce the level of acid that blocks absorption of its nutrients.

Carrots also offer more benefits when cooked, according to the magazine.

"For some vegetables, cooking breaks down the cell walls, and that makes it easier for your body to absorb the nutrients," said Consumer Reports Health and Food Editor Trisha Calvo. "Take carrots for instance. When you cook them, you absorb about 14 percent more of the carotenoids, the antioxidants that they contain."

Consumer Reports said to cook carrots whole, which keeps more nutrients from escaping into the water.

Cooking white mushrooms just about doubles their levels of important nutrients like potassium, niacin, zinc and magnesium. The same is true for asparagus: Boiling the stalks just until they turn bright green boosts cancer fighting antioxidants and phenolic acid.

Tomatoes are also among the better-when-cooked group. One study found that cooking boosts the disease fighting antioxidant called lycopene by about 35 percent. Consumer Reports says to roast them for about half an hour at 200 degrees to get the increase.

The flip side, though, is that cooking veggies also can destroy some vitamins. Vitamin C goes down quite a bit in cooked tomatoes.

The best way to eat your veggies, according to Consumer Reports, is to get a mix of cooked and raw.

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