Plants are always considered healthy, and when we are looking to improve our vitality and increase our longevity, we tend to turn to a greater variety of them in our meals. We may not specifically remember the exact health benefits of each plant food, but as long as we strive to include more of them in our diet, we are working towards a stronger body and a sharper mind. Or at least this is what the majority of us believe.
However, a lot of us may lack something that I call eating culture. Eating culture pertains to the way we choose, combine, eat, and prepare our food. I believe that developing a good eating culture plays a significant role in keeping our digestion in top shape, as well as preventing unexpected infections, bouts of diarrhea, nausea, vomiting and other similar health issues that if ignored can lead to a more serious health problems in the long run. So, here is some important knowledge to improve your eating culture with
If eating raw cookie dough is your favorite indulgence when baking, listen up! Tasting uncooked food made with flour could make you seriously ill, suggests a study published in The New England Journal of Medicine. Research, which led to a recall of more than ten million pounds of flour in 2016, found that a type of E. coli bacteria previously discovered in wet environments, like ground beef and lettuce, can also thrive in dry hosts like baking flour. A total of 56 cases of infection were identified in 24 states. And over a quarter of patients were hospitalized. One even went into kidney failure. All of the people, however, recovered.
2. Undercooked beans
Raw kidney beans are hard and bitter. So, it’s unlikely anyone would grab a handful to snack on. Nevertheless, it’s important to understand that there is a reason beans need to be cooked to a soft state. Beans contain proteins called phytohemagglutinin. When eaten raw or are inadequately cooked, kidney beans are toxic and can lead to food poisoning, reports the Independent. There are other beans that contain phytohemagglutinin, but red kidney beans have the highest concentration. So, just a handful of raw or undercooked kidney beans is enough to cause gastrointestinal issues like vomiting, nausea and diarrhea two to three hours after eating. In fact, the more you eat, the more intense your symptoms will be.
3. Undercooked potatoes
Once again, make sure you have cooked your potatoes through. Unlike pasta, al-dente potatoes can be dangerous. Raw potatoes are potentially toxic because of a compound called solanine. Even in small amounts, solanine is highly toxic, according to MedlinePlus. Potatoes with just a little green under the skin have a higher concentration of solanine. Moreover, potatoes that have started to sprout eyes also have a higher concentration of solanine. Potato poisoning may cause stomach pain, headache and even paralysis. Therefore, if you cut into a potato that’s green throughout, don’t eat it — even when cooked.
Raw olives, like potatoes, are something you don’t want to eat raw. While they won’t make you sick, unprocessed olives straight from the tree are very bitter. And green olives are by far the most bitter, thanks to a compound called oleuropein. The only way to remove the bitterness and make them edible is by curing them with either a lye or brine solution, according to Cook’s Info. Although some raw food enthusiasts may eat raw olives, no Mediterranean olive producer would ever consider eating raw olives.
5. Raw wild mushrooms
Raw wild mushrooms are rough on the stomach and tough to digest. Cooking them helps you avoid serving up gastrointestinal distress. Additionally, many are actually quite toxic and even potentially deadly when eaten raw. Cooking, on the other hand, breaks down the harmful compounds. That said, some wild mushrooms are deadly raw or cooked. So, unless you are 100 percent certain a wild mushroom is edible, don’t eat it!
6. Raw asparagus
You may find a few shaved asparagus salad recipes floating around the internet. But, in reality, asparagus is a vegetable that really should be cooked. Some vegetables are just more beneficial for your health when eaten cooked, and asparagus falls in this category. Asparagus has more cancer-fighting antioxidants when cooked. Cooking also increases absorption of vital nutrients like vitamins A, B, C, E and K. You won’t get sick from eating raw asparagus, but cooking it will help break down the fiber, making it easier to digest.
7. Raw sprouts
Like any fresh produce that’s eaten raw or lightly cooked, sprouts carry a risk of foodborne illness, suggests Foodsafety.gov. While they’re certainly tasty on top of salad, use them with caution. When uncooked, they can harbor harmful bacteria such as salmonella, E. coli and listeria. Sprouts should only be purchased fresh. But young children, pregnant women, the elderly and anyone whose immune is compromised should avoid sprouts altogether.
So, what about those homegrown sprouts you ask? Well, when it comes to harmful bacteria, they’re not immune. Even if just a few harmful bacteria are present in or on the seed, the bacteria will multiply quickly during sprouting, even under the sanitary conditions of your home.
8. Rhubarb Leaves
The stalks of the rhubarb plant are edible, but the leaves can actually be poisonous and may lead to difficulty breathing, burning of the mouth and throat, and even seizures, according to New York City’s Mount Sinai Hospital.
Cassava is a staple in many South American and African dishes. But, like lima beans, the raw root and its leaves contain a derivative of cyanide and should be baked or roasted for optimum taste and safety.
While the berries have a reputation for fighting off colds and the flu, and even calming acne and irritated skin, their raw form can be poisonous. It’s best to thoroughly boil them before adding them to your favorite syrup or elixir, according to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health.
Eggplant, before it’s cooked, has the same glycoalkaloid compound as raw potatoes do, solanine, which isn’t lethal, but it’s still not ideal to eat raw. Plus, a study from Food Chemistryshowed that eggplant can have further antioxidant benefits when sautéed in olive oil, so it’s a win-win.
Raw green beans aren’t necessarily poisonous, as they were once thought to be, but when uncooked, they can have higher levels of the protein lectin, which is found in many beans and may cause digestive problems. Blanching green beans lowers the lectin levels significantly, and is the safest way to eat them.
Broccoli is one veggie that there’s a nutritional benefit to cooking: If cooked properly, it can increase cancer-fighting compounds called glucosinolates, says Allison Knott, M.S., R.D.N., C.S.S.D., a New York City-based dietitian. “One study looked at the effect of steaming broccoli versus frying or boiling and found that steaming preserved or increased the glucosinolates, whereas frying and boiling caused the compounds to degrade significantly,” Knott says. And it may also be much easier for your digestive system to process broccoli if it’s cooked rather than consumed raw.
This sister veggie of broccoli may also be tricky to tolerate and digest raw. Roasting or grilling it can be easier on your stomach and can bring out a delicious flavor in cauliflower. One study from the Institute of Food Technologists also found that the cauliflower lost the least minerals and essential nutrients by grilling it or baking it in the oven, as opposed to boiling.
16. Brussels Sprouts
Brussels sprouts are certainly tastier and tend to lose some of their bitterness when cooked; not to mention, they might cause less bloating and gas than they could if consumed raw. Cooking the sprouts releases a cancer- fighting compound called isothiocyanates, which may help inhibit the growth of tumors, according to Harvard University’s School of Public Health.
Of course, a kale salad is a perfectly hearty meal or side dish, but when it comes to digestion, you might suffer. Cooking kale can help soften the fibers and aid digestion. Plus, cooked kale is better for those with thyroid disease, since its raw form can inhibit the uptake of iodine by the thyroid gland, according to Oregon State University’s Linus Pauling Institute.
Cabbage, like kale, is a member of the cruciferous family. Not only is it difficult to digest raw for some, but cooking it also brings out the vitamin C, vitamin K, magnesium, and folate content even further, according to Megan Ware, R.D.N., L.D.
One of our favorite fall flavors takes on an even richer flavor when baked into breads, pies, and soups, and it may be better for you, too. While you likely wouldn’t want to eat it raw anyway, cooked pumpkin—and its winter squash relatives, like acorn, delicata, and butternut—has high levels of vitamins A and E, according to Ware.
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