THE RAW FACTS

vegetables

Have you always wondered how to prepare vegetables in order to maximize their nutritional content? There’s no easy answer, since some produce is most nutritious cooked, while other kinds do not need heat to bring out the best in them. Here is how to get the most from the farmers’ picks.

Onions

Just slice and eat them raw. You get less of the phytonutrient allicin, a hunger busting ingredient when you cook onions. On the other hand, they contain a flavonoid known as quercetin. It has anti inflammatory properties. Total amount of flavonoids can be increased by cooking. Yellow and red onions have more flavonoids than white ones. Sauté or bake onions for five minutes; any longer and the onion will begin to lose nutrients.

Broccoli

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Eat it raw. Heating deactivates myrosinase, an enzyme that helps cleanse your liver of carcinogens. Broccoli or other cruciferous veggies, such as cabbage, cauliflower, kale and Brussels sprouts are good examples of vegetables which should be eaten both cooked and raw. Raw broccoli contains an enzyme called myrosinase which breaks down into sulforaphane, a compound helping to prevent cancer and stomach ulcers. Cooking damages myrosinase. On the other hand, cooking forms the compound indole in cruciferous veggies. It is a phytonutrient that fights precancerous cells before they turn malignant.

Beets

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Eat them raw. Beets lose more than 30 percent of their folate while cooking. Eating them raw will store this brain compound.

Mushrooms

Eat them cooked. Whether you heat, sauté, boil, roast or grill them, more muscle-building potassium will be brought out.

Red peppers

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Eat them raw. Their vitamin C breaks down while roasting, frying, or grilling above 370 degrees. Red peppers are high in vitamin C that is nutrient soluble in water. By boiling or cooking red peppers, the vitamins dissolve in the water. It is best to eat red peppers raw.

Spinach

SPINACH LEAVES

Eat it cooked. Have spinach cooked and you will absorb more iron, calcium and magnesium. Though raw spinach is still good, cooking makes it easier for your body to absorb the calcium it contains. Calcium is essential for teeth and bone strength, so make sure you get the most out of the spinach. Steam your spinach rather than boiling it to avoid losing nutrients.

Tomatoes

tomatoes

Eat them cooked. Are you surprised? When you eat cooked tomatoes, your body absorbs more cancer fighting lycopene. Tomatoes contain lycopene, an antioxidant linked to the prevention of cancer and other chronic diseases. Researchers have found that lycopene molecules change tomatoes’ shape, which makes them more usable by the body. The amount of lycopene in tomatoes is higher and it is better absorbed by the body after cooking with a little oil, and particularly processing, rather than eaten fresh or raw.

Carrots

Raw carrots supply polyphenols, chemicals with antioxidant properties thought to reduce the risk of cancer and heart disease. Boiling carrots destroys all the polyphenols as well as cooking, which breaks down the vitamin C found in carrots. This vitamin is easily degraded when exposed to heat. It is said that cooked carrots supply more of the antioxidant ß-carotene than raw ones. Your body converts this antioxidant to vitamin A.

Garlic

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Cooking makes the herb garlic less potent because heat reduces the amount of healthy allicin, so it is best to add your garlic just before you finish cooking rather than at the start. Garlic contains chemicals that relax your blood vessels, helping to protect you from heart attack. Cooking garlic reduces the amount of these vital chemicals, so it is better to enjoy garlic raw.

WHEN IT COMES TO VEGETABLES, FRESH IS GENERALLY BEST BUT SOMETIMES A BIT OF STEAMING/COOKING MAY ALLOW VITAMINS AND MINERALS TO BE MORE EASILY ABSORBED BY THE BODY.

MY RULE OF THUMB: FRESH THEN FROZEN THEN CANNED BUT MOST IMPORTANT IS THAT YOU EAT 5-7 SERVINGS OF FRUITS AND VEGETABLES EACH DAY!

HAPPY CRUNCHING!

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FOODBORNE ILLNESS: THE TEN RISKIEST FOODS!

SEPTEMBER – FOOD SAFETY MONTH!

These 10 foods regulated by the FDA have accounted for 40% of all foodborne illnesses in the United States since 1990. These foods have cause 50,000 illnesses, some ending in death. However, many cases of foodborne illness are never reported.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) stated that for every case of clinically diagnosed and reported salmonellosis, another 38 cases are never proven and/or reported. The list included the following foods.

1. Leafy greens

SPINACH LEAVES
Accounting for 24% of all illnesses in the FDA’s top 10 list, leafy greens most often are contaminated with either E coli, norovirus, or salmonella. Top reasons for contamination include unwashed hands of a handler, improper preparation, and cross-contamination. Contact with wild animals, manure, or contaminated water prior to harvest also is cause for concern.

2. Eggs

HARD BOILED EGGS
Most illnesses from eggs are caused by salmonella. Regulations for cleaning and inspecting eggs have helped matters considerably, but if chickens are infected with Salmonella enteritidis, the chicken’s ovaries become infected and eggs are contaminated before the shells are even formed. In July 2010, regulations were changed for producers with 50,000 or more egg-laying hens to include controls to prevent Salmonella enteritidis. Catered events, prisons, and buffets are where most cases of salmonella from eggs originate, likely because of improper holding temperatures.

3. Tuna


Many people have become ill from the scombroid illness after eating contaminated tuna. Fresh tuna decays quickly after it is caught, and if appropriate measures are not taken, tuna begins to release natural scombrotoxins. Cooking, freezing, smoking, curing, or canning cannot kill the toxin. More than 65% of illness related to tuna ingestion is tied to eating the fish at restaurants. Tuna also is linked to salmonella and norovirus.

4. Oysters

oysters
Oysters sometimes are harvested in water that is contaminated with norovirus. If oysters are eaten raw or undercooked, they can lead to gastroenteritis. The most dangerous pathogens found in oysters are vibrio, which can kill immunocompromised people.

5. Potatoes


Outbreaks from foodborne illness usually are linked to dishes such as potato salad, which contain many other ingredients. Most illnesses are caused by E coli or salmonella, making it obvious that cross-contamination is a common problem when preparing dishes that contain potatoes. Shigella and Listeria monocytogenes, which also are linked to potato-containing dishes, point to improper handling and preparation by infected food preparers and improper cleaning of surfaces, such as deli counters.

6. Cheese

cheese
Cheese can become contaminated, most often with salmonella, during production or processing. The vast majority of infections are caused by consumption of unpasteurized cheese. Pregnant women should avoid soft cheeses, which can carry Listeria monocytogenes, which frequently cause miscarriage even if the mother does not have any symptoms of illness. People who are immunocompromised and elderly people also are advised to avoid soft cheeses because of the risk of contracting listeriosis.

7. Ice cream

icecream
The most common reason for ice cream causing illness is people using undercooked eggs when making ice cream at home. Soft ice cream, like soft cheeses, can become a breeding ground for Listeria monocytogenes. The most famous case of contaminated ice cream, however, was caused by a truck that was used to haul both raw, unpasteurized eggs and pasteurized ice cream mix.

8. Tomatoes

tomatoes
Salmonella can enter tomato plants through the roots or flowers and then can easily enter the fruit. It is very difficult to kill the salmonella without cooking the fruit. Norovirus also is sometimes found in tomatoes. Seventy percent of all illnesses associated with tomatoes were contracted in restaurants.

9. Sprouts

sprouts
The CDC and the FDA strongly recommend that the elderly, children, and immunocompromised individuals avoid consumption of raw sprouts, which may carry E coli or salmonella because of a variety of reasons, including improper handling.

10. Berries

MICROBES 7
The most common cause of illness related to berry ingestion is the cyclospora parasite, which does not resolve itself without a round of antibiotics. A 1997 outbreak of hepatitis A, during which thousands of students became ill, was tied to consumption of frozen strawberries. The contamination may have occurred because of an infected farm worker from Baja, CA.

BE CAREFUL WITH YOUR OWN FOOD PREPARATION AND HANDLING.  WATCH OUT AT PICNICS AND FAMILY GET-TOGETHERS WHERE FOODS MAY BE LEFT AT ROOM TEMPERATURE FOR LONG PERIODS.  THINK ABOUT WHAT YOU ORDER WHEN EATING OUT TOO – KEEP THESE TOP TEN ILLNESS CAUSING FOODS IN THE BACK OF YOUR MIND!