When it comes to eating for weight loss, it’s not just what you eat, it’s how you eat it, experts from Harvard University explain on The Conversation. The authors suggest that food processing—like cooking, blending, and mashing—affects calorie content. In every case, the more processed a food is, the more energy it releases.
This means if you eat cooked food, you’re more likely to gain weight, while people who eat raw food are more inclined to lose weight. Why? Highly processed food is more digestible; it’s softer and requires less energy from our bodies to break it down. (Keep in mind that digestibility changes and varies.) Starch becomes more resistant to digestion when it cools after being cooked so the enzymes can’t break down as easily. Stale food, like day-old cooked spaghetti, will provide you with fewer calories than a plate of spaghetti eaten straight from the stove; both technically have the same amount of calories, but very different outcomes.
To scale back on calories, stray from soft white bread in favor of rough whole-wheat varieties; reject processed cheese and reach for natural; and consume raw fruits and veggies over cooked.
Do note that some cooked or processed foods are better for you than their raw counterparts. For example, pasteurizing milk kills bacteria; cooking meat prevents salmonella and E. coli; and cooking carrots, spinach, mushrooms, and asparagus supplies our bodies with more antioxidants.
Here are seven foods that are best eaten raw.