Turn up the heat to improve veggies

A selection of colourful vegetables including green beans, tomatoes, carrots, peppers and onions.

As kids, many of us will recall being told to ‘eat our greens’ and encouraged to consume lots of vegetables as a way to stay healthy.

Vegetables are a great source of vitamins and minerals and an excellent source of dietary fibre, which can help reduce digestion problems.

There is often a general assumption that munching raw veg is better for you.

But not all food is more nutritious when eaten raw. There are a handful of vegetables which have even more goodness when cooked.

This should make it even more appetising next time you’re preparing a trusty old veggie pasta bake to put in the oven for tea.

Vegetables which improve their goodness with cooking include:



Cooking asparagus breaks down its cell walls, making all those vitamins and nutrients stored inside the asparagus more easily absorbed


A selection of different mushrooms on a plate

Cooking mushrooms helps to release antioxidants, which can help to combat illness and ageing.


A bowl of spinach

Rich in nutrients, including iron, magnesium, calcium and zinc, which are much more readily absorbed by the body by cooking. Research also suggests that steaming spinach maintains its levels of folate, which may reduce the risk of certain cancers.


Three tomatoes on a vine.Cooking tomatoes, using any method, greatly increases the antioxidant lycopene in tomatoes. Lycopene has been associated with a lower risk of a range of chronic diseases including heart disease and cancer. Although cooking tomatoes does reduce their vitamin C content, their lycopene content increases.


carrotsCooked carrots contain more beta-carotene than raw carrots, supporting bone growth, vision and the immune system. Cooking carrots with the skins on more than doubles their antioxidant power. Carrots should be boiled whole before slicing to stop nutrients escaping into the cooking water.

Bell peppers

An assortment of bell peppersA great source of immune-system-boosting antioxidants. As with tomatoes, vitamin C is lost when peppers are boiled or steamed because the vitamin can leach out into the water. Try roasting them instead.


Broccoli on a chopping board.Steaming broccoli, cauliflower and brussels sprouts can help to preserve both the Vitamin C content along with cancer-fighting compounds you can get from them.

Green beans 

Green beansThey have higher levels of antioxidants when they are baked, microwaved, griddled or even fried as opposed to boiled or pressure cooked.


Person holding a bunch of kale.Healthiest when lightly steamed as it deactivates enzymes that prevent the body from using the iodine it needs for the thyroid, which helps to regulate your metabolism.

So it seems there is something even more healthy that the humble veggie – and hopefully reading about how you can improve their health benefits might inspire you next time you’re preparing a meal.

So, what’s for tea? What are you planning to try next?

This post is adapted from an article by Dr Laura Brown for The Conversation. Read the full piece here.


Author: Michelle

Michelle is a former regional newspaper journalist now working as a Communications Co-ordinator at Teesside University. She’s happiest when listening to music and has a soft spot for indie-rock, house and 90s rave.