A study published in The British Journal of Nutrition in 2010 showed that persons eating a strict raw food diet had normal amounts of vitamin A and high levels of beta-carotene, but low levels of the antioxidant lycopene.
Lycopene is a red pigment found in tomatoes, watermelon, red bell peppers and papaya. Recent studies link high intake of lycopene with lowering high cholesterol and a lower risk of heart attacks and cancer of the prostate, breast, colon and lung.
Because lycopene is a fat-soluble carotenoid, you’ll absorb more of it if you cook it and serve it with a healthy monounsaturated fat such as olive or canola oil.
According to a study in the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry (JAFC), the level of lycopene in tomatoes rose 35% after cooking.
Similarly, Cornell University researchers found that the longer corn was cooked, the more cancer-battling compounds it released. After 10, 25 and 50 minutes of cooking, the antioxidant content was boosted by 22, 44 and 53% respectively.
Another study published in JAFC reports that cooking carrots increases their level of beta-carotene, another antioxidant substance called carotenoids. The body converts beta-carotene into vitamin A, important for vision, reproduction, bone growth and regulating the immune system.
SOURCES: Dr Andrew Weil’s Tip of the Day, August 2, 2013 Scientific American, March 31, 2009 PSA Rising.com