How to live longer: The cooking process that could impact heart health and longevity

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Longevity is attained through a multitude of factors. Leading a healthy lifestyle will more often than not come down to one’s diet. Eating your five a day is a notion most are aware of. But did you know it is the way in which vegetables are prepared that could really be key in boosting your longevity.

There is no denying that vegetables are good for you, and now nutritional scientists have revealed the cardiovascular benefits of raw versus cooked vegetables.

A new study by UK Biobank, a data source for longitudinal studies, analysed 400,000 participants with a mean age of 56.1 and a BMI of 27.3.

Researchers looked at the mean daily intake of vegetables which was five tablespoons and roughly evenly divided into raw and cooked to note the health benefits.

During the 12+ years of follow-up, it was found that eating five or more tablespoons of vegetables a day, compared with none, lowers your risk of having a heart attack by 10 percent.

This was not true when considering cooked vegetables, nor did it hold for reducing the risk of stroke.

During the same period, “consuming two or more heaped tablespoons/day of total vegetables” led to a 17 percent decline in cardiovascular deaths.

Again, only for raw vegetables.

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The study found the main benefits of consuming vegetables raw as opposed to cooked which include:

  • Vegetables are less calorie dense, replacing foods high in fat, salt, or high glycaemic loads
  • Vegetables are more micronutrients – vitamins, polyphenols and antioxidants
  • Cooked vegetables differ from those eaten raw
  • Cooking processes alter the bioavailability of nutrients
  • Seasonings and oil used in cooking can increase fats and salts, “known risk factors” for cardiovascular disease.

Eating raw vegetables gives you the most enzymes, vitamins and minerals needed for good health.

Shayna Komar, a licensed and registered dietician says incorporating raw foods, specifically vegetables and fruits, into your diet can have numerous health benefits.

“You will likely have more energy, better skin, improved digestion and a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease once you get used to eating raw food,” she says.

Because preparation methods for raw vegetables are relatively simple, you may lose weight by fitting them into your meal plan.

Vegetables tend to lose their nutrients when they are overcooked.

“When we eat too much overly-cooked, microwaved and processed foods, it leads to a list of health-related issues,” she explains.

“Cooking may actually upset the natural structure of food, robbing it of its essential nutritional value.”

Vegetables contain helpful minerals and nutrients that our body needs to function at an optimal level.

Harvard Medical School confirmed that the consumption of five-a-day can lower blood pressure, reduce the risk of heart disease, and prevent certain cancers.

Eating fruits and vegetables can also lower the risk of eye and digestive problems.

“Eating non-starchy vegetables and fruits like apples, pears, and green leafy vegetables may even promote weight loss,” added the Harvard Medical School.

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