The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommends adults eat at least 2 1/2 cup of vegetables daily. They contain the vitamins and minerals people need while being low in calories and fat. Most adults get only half as much fiber as they need, but vegetables will increase your fiber intake and help protect you from disease. Making a raw vegetable smoothie for breakfast or a snack can help you eat your raw veggies without tasting them.
Raw Vs. Cooked Vegetables
According to Harvard Medical School, certain nutrients are lost when the food is heated. In the case of vegetables, micro-nutrients release into the cooking water when boiled. Cooking your vegetables also denatures the enzymes that help assimilate nutrients, which means you'll get more nutritional value out of eating them raw. Some vegetables gain a higher content of antioxidants called carotenoids and ferulic acid when cooked, but in general cooking reduces their antioxidant content by significantly reducing levels of vitamin C and polyphenols.
Raw vegetables contain some small amounts of protein and very little to no fat. Although they're a good source of carbohydrates, vegetables are low on the glycemic index and low in calories. Therefore, they're safe for diabetic patients and helpful to anyone looking to lose or maintain weight. One cup of chopped raw carrots contains only 52 calories, and the same amount of raw broccoli and cucumber contains only 31 calories and 16 calories, respectively.
Raw vegetables provide fiber, which is a type of carbohydrate that cannot be digested, so it helps move stool through your digestive tract. By doing so, it relieves and prevents constipation. It also reduces your risk of heart disease, diverticular disease and diabetes. According to the Harvard School of Public Health, you need to eat at least 20 grams of dietary fiber daily. One cup of chopped broccoli contains 2.4 grams of fiber, and a cup of chopped carrots contains 3.6 grams of fiber.
Vitamins and Minerals
Many vegetables are a good source of vitamin A. Just 1/2 cup of chopped raw carrots will provide you 184 percent of your daily recommended intake of vitamin A. One cup of chopped red bell peppers will give you about 100 percent of your daily recommended intake. Adding 1/2 cup of raw green bell peppers to your smoothie will provide 100 percent of your daily requirement of vitamin C. Other good sources of vitamin C are leafy greens, broccoli and cauliflower. Dark leafy greens are rich sources of vitamins A, K and folate, as well as the minerals calcium, iron, magnesium and potassium.
How to Make Raw Vegetable Smoothies
Besides vegetables, a balanced smoothie includes fruits; honey, if you'd like it to be sweeter; a liquid such as fruit juice, milk or water; and yogurt if you want to create a creamier texture. Keep in mind, however, that dairy products will increase the fat content of your smoothie, and adding fruit juice and honey will amount to more calories. Softer vegetables like leafy greens and cucumbers blend more smoothly. High-speed blenders can puree harder vegetables, like carrots, broccoli and celery. If you want to be sure not to taste any vegetables, opt for fewer bitter veggies. For example, use spinach instead of kale or watercress.
- Scientific American: Fact or Fiction: Raw Veggies Are Healthier Than Cooked Ones
- Harvard Medical School: Microwave Cooking and Nutrition
- USDA National Nutrient Database: Cucumber, Peeled, Raw
- Harvard School of Public Health: Fiber: Start Roughing It!
- USDA National Nutrient Database: Carrots, Raw
- USDA National Nutrient Database: Broccoli, Raw
- National Institutes of Health: Vitamin A
- National Institutes of Health: Vitamin C
- U.S. Department of Agriculture: Dark Green Leafy Vegetables
- Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: A Decade-by-Decade Guide to Eating Your Way Healthy