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6 Vegetables Good for Juicing + 6 Vegetables to Both Juice AND Cook

raw vs cooked vegetables

If you’re aware of the differing benefits of raw vs cooked vegetables, you may be curious which are the vegetables good for juicing and which are better cooked.

Juicing is such an exciting adventure. When I first started, I felt like the whole world of fresh produce was wide open to me. There was suddenly no need to fuss over how to prepare and cook the various vegetables I came across – I could simply juice them! Well, not all of them…some fruits and veggies are simply un-juiceable.

The next lesson I learned was not ‘though you can juice a huge range of vegetables – some are best eaten cooked, at least some of the time. It can be a little tricky since the benefits of cooking vary from veggie to veggie.

Raw vs Cooked Vegetables: Why It Matters

You see, cooking changes the texture, the taste, the color, and the chemical composition of vegetables. For many vegetables, this change is not a good thing since the heat used in cooking can damage or destroy some of the most valuable nutrients and enzymes found in fresh produce.

But for other veggies, cooking actually boosts the nutritional content since the heat helps to break down the plants’ thick cell walls to release the nutrients bound to those walls.

So how do you decide which veggies you should juice and which you should eat cooked? Here’s a simple guide to helping you get the most nutrition out of your vegetables!

6 Vegetables Good for Juicing (aka Better RAW)

Below are a little list of veggies that are not only extremely healthy, but are most nutritious when eaten raw.

Here’s exactly why they’re all best in their RAW state – plus, juice recipes so you can taste them all.

Beets

beet juice recipe
image courtesy of Deliciously Ella

Beets are a unique source of betalains, unique phytonutrients that have been shown to have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and detoxification benefits. Its these phytonutrients that are responsible for giving beets their bright, vivid hue and for tinting your pee an alarmingly red color.

Although these betalains are found in other foods (the beautifully red stems of Swiss chard, for example) – they’re found in very high concentrations in the peel and flesh of beets.The thing about betalains is that they’re not heat stable and are prone to damage when cooked, even for short amounts of time. To get the most of these benefits from beets, juice your beets or if you want to cook them – opt for a short cooking time of 15 minutes of less.

Also, beets lose more than 25% of their folate (aka folic acid & vitamin B-12) when cooked. This lovely vitamin plays an important role in a number of bodily functions including cell repair, DNA synthesis, amino acid metabolism, and has been linked to preventing obesity, heart disease, and various cancers. Find out more beet benefits!

If you want the full benefits – juice raw beets. Want a quick, delicious beet juice recipe? Here’s a brilliant one by Deliciously Ella:

  • 1 beetroot
  • 1 cucumber
  • 2 sticks of celery
  • 3 carrots
  • 1 red apple
  • an inch of ginger

Quick note: If you’ve been juicing for awhile and don’t need the super sweetness, feel free to skip the apple since the beetroot and carrots add more than enough sweetness to please your tastebuds 🙂

Garlic

garlic juice recipe
image courtesy of In Sonnet’s Kitchen

Most of us – at least the polite ones – aren’t too fond of raw garlic for obvious reasons. And whereas I admit that raw garlic will not do you any favors in the romance department – it is great for you health.

Raw garlic contains a DNA-protecting compound called allicin. Allicin is the major biologically active component of garlic and has been linked to various health benefits including lowering bad cholesterol, increasing HDL cholesterol (good cholesterol),  restoring suppressed antibody responses, supporting overall circulatory health, and lowering the risk  of heart attack, strokes, and various other heart-related conditions. Get more garlic benefits!

But when you cook garlic – even for one minute – you completely inactivate this awesome enzyme.

To reap the most health benefits from garlic – juice some raw garlic into your favorite juice recipes. Preferably on days when you’re not planning on talking to too many people…like when you’re home with a cold. Here’s a great immune-boosting garlic juice recipe, courtesy of In Sonnet’s Kitchen:

  • 1 – 3 cloves garlic
  • 1-inch piece of fresh ginger
  • 1 bunch of rainbow carrots (or any carrots)

So simple, so healthy.

Onions

But garlic isn’t the only food to contain awesome allicin – raw onions have them too! And much like with garlic, you’ll only get the benefits when you consume them raw.

It’s not just the allicin, though – you’re also getting these wonderful compounds called organosulfides. These compounds are what cause you to get teary-eyed when you chop up a raw onion but they also have real benefits like potent anti-inflammatory benefits. They’ve even been shown to help stop cancer cell growth!

And raw onions are not that bad in a juice recipe – just make sure to use a tiny little bit and preferably on days when you don’t have a date.

Sprouts

Did you know that ounce-per-ounce, sprouts contain more vitamins, minerals, proteins, and enzymes than any other food? Not to mention that they’re totally crunchy and delicious!

Learn how to grow your own sprouts here!

But these yummy veggies are also high in phytonutrients and chlorophyll that are prone to damage when cooked. So be sure to juice raw sprouts for maximum benefits!

Here’s an easy recipe to get you started:

  • a handful of alfalfa sprouts
  • 1 bunch watercress
  • 1 apple
  • 2 carrots
  • 3 kale leaves

But you don’t even need a juice recipe, really. Sprouts go pretty much unnoticed in juice recipes so feel free to add a handful into any of your favorite juicer recipes!

Leafy Greens

green juice recipe
image courtesy of Nourish Move Love

Leafy greens are among the best vegetables to juice which is a great thing ’cause it is near impossible to get enough of these greens in your diet. Leafy greens like kale, chard, collards and beet greens are high in chlorophyll, vitamins C & E, enzymes, and amino acids – all of which are fabulous for your body.

But these vital nutrients – especially chlorophyll and vitamin C – are damaged through the process of cooking. Even a cooking time of 5 minutes is enough for significant losses of chlorophyll and as for vitamin C – well, this vitamin is highly unstable and degrades super easily through oxidation from heat.

Note: Kale and other cruciferous leafy greens are goitrogenic foods and there’s been a lot of hullabaloo over whether they have adverse effects on the thyroid. In case you’re wondering – unless you have an ongoing iodine deficiency or an underlying thyroid, the risk is miniscule.

That being said – balance is always key. Do not overdo it with any one leafy green. Be diverse with what you put in your body and always, always rotate your greens (and other veggies)!

Here’s a super simple green recipe to get you started, courtesy of Nourish Move Love:

  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup spinach
  • 1 apple
  • ½ cucumber
  • 1 lemon {peeled}
  • 1″ chunk ginger

It’s clean, green, easy to whip up and refreshingly healthy without being overwhelmingly green. Perfect for beginners and advanced green juicers alike.

Cabbage

cabbage juice for ulcers

Cabbage is one of the most underrated, healthiest foods you can consume on a regular basis and boasts some serious health benefits

It’s a great, natural detoxifier you can add into your juice recipes, thanks to its rich glucosinolates content, which are sulfur-containing compounds that are converted into active forms isothyocyanates and indoles (both help eliminate carcinogens from your body).

The thing is that the enzyme which converts glucosinolates into its active compounds is easily destroyed by heat so to get the full benefits – juice the cabbage! Check out the best cabbage juice recipes!

6 Vegetables Good for Juicing AND Cooking

It’s easy to go a little juice-crazy. We’ve certainly been there – that point where you start wandering wide-eyed through the produce section, hoping for a new “find” to grind away in your juicer.

And juicing is great, but the truth is – certain foods offer different nutritional benefits depending on whether they’re cooked or raw.  Some of Mother Nature’s best foods are hands down best consumed raw – take garlic, for example, you’ll get the most of its cancer-fighting benefits when it’s tear-inducingly raw.

But some veggies have nutrients that are maximized when lightly cooked. It doesn’t mean the raw version isn’t good for you – most of these veggies swing both ways – but simply that you get different nutritional benefits depending on whether it’s raw or cooked.

Okay, let’s get started, yes?

Is Asparagus Better Raw or Cooked?

Asparagus really swings both ways. On one hand, cooked asparagus supplies more cancer-fighting antioxidants than they do when raw since cooking makes it easier for your body to benefit from these protective antioxidants, especially the ferulic acid found in asparagus.

On the other hand, when consumed raw – asparagus keeps its high levels of folate, an essential B vitamin crucial for brain health. Plus, juicing too much asparagus can come with a pretty weird side effect.

Our take: Asparagus juice is not the yummiest tasting juice – but cooked asparagus is damn delicious! We prefer it cooked.

Is Broccoli Better Cooked or Raw?

Broccoli is equally beneficial whether it is raw or cooked. In its raw form, broccoli contains the enzyme myrosinase, which cleanses the liver of cancer-causing toxins. Raw broccoli also delivers more sulforaphane, an important cancer fighting compound. The levels of these nutrients are decreased with cooking.

But while cooked broccoli has lower levels of minerals, it is richer in antioxidants as well as folate. So broccoli is in fact healthy whether it is raw or cooked.

Our take: Both juice it and steam it!

Are Carrots Better Raw or Cooked?

Carrots are great raw, but when cooked – they release more beta-carotene, which is converted into Vitamin A in our bodies. This nutrient protects us from environmental damage and as such possible protects us from cancer and heart disease.

Our take: Carrots are also root veggies (more sugar content than most veggies) so we’d recommend juicing them raw occasionally and cooking them mostly. Cooking methods that best preserve the antioxidant quantities are boiling or steaming – not frying.

Is Spinach Better Raw or Cooked?

The raw vs cooked spinach debate has been around for awhile but most of it is focused on oxalates. Well, turns out there’s another great reason to steam or boil your spinach. ‘Though raw spinach is still good for you, cooked spinach makes it easier for your body to absorb the calcium spinach contains.

Our take: Juice spinach occasionally but mostly – eat it cooked. Calcium is essential for bone strength, so make sure you get the most out of your spinach. Steam your spinach rather than boiling it to avoid losing nutrients. Plus, cooked spinach is mighty delicious!

Are Tomatoes Better Raw or Cooked?

One of the main benefits of tomato juice is the high lycopene content. Eating lycopene-rich foods reduces the risk of getting cancer or heart disease. Interestingly, cooked tomatoes have a higher level of lycopene than raw tomato juice. This is because the heat from cooking breaks down the thick cell walls, releasing the nutrients that are bound to the cell walls.

However, if you are focusing on the Vitamin C content of tomatoes, then it is better to have raw juice as the Vitamin C levels in tomatoes decrease with cooking.

Our take: Both juice it and cook it!

Are Red Peppers Better Raw or Cooked?

When boiled, red peppers get a boost in carotenoid content. But at the same time, they lose their vitamin C content.

Red peppers are chock full of vitamin C which is a highly unstable vitamin. It’s easily degraded throughout oxidation and exposure to heat since the heat increases the rate at which vitamin C reacts with oxygen in the air. It’s also lost when cooked in water since the vitamin C dissolves in water and is lost. Again.

Our take: Juice these peppers. And eat some that are boiled.

A Final Word on the Raw vs Cooked Vegetables Debate

Comparing the healthfulness of raw vs cooked vegetables is a complicated, often inexact science. The simple bottom line is:

  • Juice your veggies
  • Eat your veggies

And do both of the above every day.

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