Leafy greens... better cooked or uncooked?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created March 16, 2012 at 9:14 PM

I had been relying on big salads for my leafy greens but I'm wondering, am I better off eating them cooked instead? If you take the water out of the lettuce, then I can eat a lot more of it. On the other hand, that water may improve bioavailability and some nutrients may be damaged in the cooking. What do you all think?



on March 17, 2012
at 06:39 AM

They taste better cooked.

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3 Answers



on March 16, 2012
at 09:41 PM

It's a balance between bioavailability and degradation. Cooking increases bioavailability while it degrades nutrients. Quick cooking is best, as you get the most bioavailability increase for the least amount of degradation.


on March 16, 2012
at 09:16 PM

Cooked with a little bit of fat for better absorption. Dark, leafy greens, right? Not that iceberg crapola.

I like to make my salads with a mix of some steamed veggies and some raw ones.

"One 2002 study he did (published in the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry) found that cooking actually boosts the amount of lycopene in tomatoes. He tells ScientificAmerican.com that the level of one type of lycopene, cis-lycopene, in tomatoes rose 35 percent after he cooked them for 30 minutes at 190.4 degrees Fahrenheit (88 degrees Celsius). The reason, he says: the heat breaks down the plants' thick cell walls and aids the body's uptake of some nutrients that are bound to those cell walls.

Cooked carrots, spinach, mushrooms, asparagus, cabbage, peppers and many other vegetables also supply more antioxidants, such as carotenoids and ferulic acid, to the body than they do when raw, Liu says. At least, that is, if they're boiled or steamed. A January 2008 report in the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry said that boiling and steaming better preserves antioxidants, particularly carotenoid, in carrots, zucchini and broccoli, than frying, though boiling was deemed the best. The researchers studied the impact of the various cooking techniques on compounds such as carotenoids, ascorbic acid and polyphenols."



on March 17, 2012
at 05:01 AM

Lightly sauteed in butter

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