Is Cooked Food Better Than Raw Food?
by Matthew Scott
(Dongguan, Southern China)
According to Traditional Chinese Dietary Therapy, most people should mostly consume cooked foods and warm-hot drinks, rather than raw foods and cool-cold drinks. Why?
The digestive process requires heat to break down and assimilate foods and liquids. If you eat a meal of, say, raw vegetables, even more digestive heat and energy are needed. Also, certain vegetables like carrot, broccoli and celery are hard and fibrous and need a lot of digestive power to break them down. If you have weak digestion or digestive problems, some raw foods may actually remain incompletely digested.
This is not to say that raw foods like salads, fruits and vegetables are unhealthy. These foods are, of course, among the healthiest you can eat, but it is the way they are eaten, i.e. raw, that can be unhealthy for some people. Likewise eating foods that have been overcooked is unhealthy too.
In Traditional Chinese Dietary Therapy, the cooking of food is said to begin and greatly aid the digestive process. This doesn't mean boiling or frying foods till they're worthless mush. Steaming and stir-frying are two easy ways to cook foods quickly and relatively lightly while still retaining plenty of nutrients. Ever had Chinese style stir fried vegetables done in a wok? They are cooked at a high temperature yet remain crisp and moist. Although some nutrients are bound to be lost due to the heat, stir fried vegetables are still healthy. By the way, eating a vegetable raw does not necessarily mean all its nutrients will be utilized by your body.
Apart from excessive eating of cold raw foods, Chinese dietary therapy says cold drinks, especially iced ones, are bad for digestion, particularly during or straight after meals. If you need a drink with or just after a meal, try sipping (not gulping) a small cup of green tea, warm-hot water or soup. A glass of red wine is fine too. If you doubt this advice about cold drinks then test it for yourself.
This and more information on the traditional Chinese way of eating is in the Chinese Diet Report which offers 25 traditional Chinese dietary tips for better health. The tips are not just on food and how and what and when to eat but also include specific exercises to do before and after meals, and more. Each tip is simple and practical and able to be used right away. If any tips go against your current thinking about food and diet, you should keep an open mind and try them before judging.
Questions and comments about cooked food and raw food and traditional Chinese dietary therapy in general are welcome.
All the best,