Raw Or Cooked Produce
Raw fruits and vegetables can be especially appealing because they’re brilliantly colored, crunchy, and easy to consume.

By: Body - Performance Nutrition - 11/15/2018

When eaten raw, many fruits and vegetables are especially appealing because they are brilliantly colored and crunchy, plus easy to consume if you don't have a way to cook them. They are tasty, low in calories and fat, and high in fiber. Eating them might help you feel fuller and consume less, which is especially helpful if you're trying to lose weight. However, sometimes cooked produce can be just as delicious and even more nutritious.

Some fruits and vegetables (such as tomatoes, corn, spinach, carrots and asparagus) provide more antioxidants once they're cooked than when consumed raw. Antioxidants protect cells and help your body function properly. Tomatoes and asparagus are good examples: Cooking releases vitamin-rich lycopene, which can help lower the risk of heart disease and cancer. And when you cook spinach, greater amounts of calcium, iron, and fiber are available for your body to use.

However, broccoli is healthier when eaten raw because myrosinase, a valuable enzyme, is damaged during the cooking process. Vitamin C can be lost during cooking too. However, vitamin C isn't usually a concern because it's also found in citrus and many other foods. That's unless you don't usually consume enough vitamin-C-containing fruits and veggies. Eating raw produce can save time and, in the warmer months, keep your kitchen cooler, since you won't need to use your stove.

However, raw fruits and vegetables might be hard to find when Operators/Enablers are on missions, eating in a smaller dining facility, or deployed. Aim for 2 cups of fruit and 2½ cups of veggies each day on average. It doesn't matter what state it's in: dried, canned, frozen, or dehydrated. It's all good for you.

Include a variety of produce in your meal plan. Choose fruits and vegetables from the rainbow of colors (red, blue/purple, green, yellow, orange, and white) to maximize nutrient intake. Eat both cooked and raw varieties to make sure you're getting nutrients, antioxidants, and more. For example, eat raw carrot sticks one day and cook them the next. Enjoy the benefits of all that nature has to offer!

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