Nourish ingredients are prepared using specific culinary techniques to ensure you get the most nutrients and benefits from every bite. A “raw-cooked approach” is used for vegetable, fruit and herb preparations to ensure you receive the greatest nutrient and bioactive benefit.
To reap these benefits, it's useful to know which vegetables are best eaten raw or cooked, the best cooking methods to get the most from a food's inherent bioactive compounds, and which preparation methods have the lowest impact on reducing the availability of nutrients and bioactives for your body.
You want a balance of cooked and “raw-cooked” foods in the MISE Toolbox. Cooked food provides valuable nutrients and can be more palatable, while raw foods will almost always reliable for their nutrient and bioactive density.
Best Preparation Methods
Many of the bioactive compounds that connect with our genes are found in the peels of fruit and vegetables. This is why you should never juice an orange without zesting it first! In many cases, you can simply add the zest right into the recipe you’re preparing – and, if not, just store it in an airtight refrigerated container for later use.
The natural fermentation process is long, slow and gradually increases the acidity and associated earthiness of a fermented product. This long slow process causes a gradual change in acidity which allows bioactives to survive. If you buy fermented products, try to purchase the freshest available and from a local source, if possible, so you know how and when the product was produced.
Best Cooking Methods to Preserve Bioactives and Nutrients
Generally, low-heat slow-cooking methods retain the most nutrients and preserve bioactive compounds:
Microwave (this is a dry, low-heat cooking method)
Applying heat and acid can denature certain bioactives and inhibit potential signals to your genes, so we recommend mixing up the way you eat fruits and vegetables and pouring items like soups and dressings at the time of consumption to avoid “cooking” what’s in your dish.
Which Foods to Serve Raw
Examples include kale, broccoli, radishes, arugula, Brussels sprouts and cabbage. When chopped or chewed, cruciferous vegetables produce a powerful bioactive: sulforaphane. However, the enzyme is destroyed in most cooking processes.
Here's a tip: If you want to cook your crucifers and get your sulforaphane too, cut or slice the vegetables and hold for 40 to 90 minutes to maximize sulforaphane production before cooking. Sulforaphane, once formed, is more heat-resistant so give your crucifers a chance to produce their bioactive before throwing them in the pan.
Foods Containing Vitamin C
Vitamin C-rich foods include pink grapefruit, blackberries, elderberries, raspberries, bilberries, strawberries, pomegranate, watermelon and tomatoes. Because heat partially destroys vitamin C, these are best consumed raw.
Raw tomatoes are an exception: They retain Vitamin C in antioxidant form, but cooking tomatoes converts lycopene into its nutrigenomic form. What's a person to do? Mix up how you prepare and consume them – some raw, some cooked. Get the best of both nutrition worlds.
Food is a source of both nutrients (vitamin, minerals, protein etc.) and bioactives compounds, non-nutrient compounds in food that can essentially connect with genes, turning them on or off to influence important biochemical processes that impact our health. In spite of their importance, you won't find bioactives on a food label – yet – but our Nourish program attempts to bridge that gap in the present.
To learn more about Culinary Genomics, visit the Genomic Kitchen