Certain vegetables more potent raw than cooked

Published: Jun. 27, 2008 at 9:58 PM EDT|Updated: Feb. 18, 2009 at 3:02 PM EST
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By Lori Lyle
WAVE 3 Health and Medical Reporter

LOUISVILLE (WAVE) - Mom was right again! Her advice to 'eat your vegetables' is getting more scientific backing - this time with a twist. Researchers now say that eating certain vegetables raw can have more health benefits than if you eat them cooked.

Katie Herdlein has always been a healthy eater, but when she was diagnosed with breast cancer she really made her menu a priority. Katie ate even more fruits and vegetables and believes it was her diet that helped her not only get through chemotherapy, but get a Master's Degree in college at the same time.

"You cannot believe how much better you feel. You just can't believe it. You'll have a lot more energy and you just feel good about yourself in every way," says Herdlein.

These foods have done more for Katie than just give her energy. Scientists at Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo, New York have found that cruciferous vegetables, things like broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage, may protect Katie from another form of cancer too.

"People who consume at least 3 or more servings of cruciferous vegetables a month had about a 40% reduction in risk of bladder cancer," says Susan McCann, PhD at Roswell Park Cancer Institute.

Researchers say the amount of protection you get is remarkable, considering how littler you have to eat. Just three servings a month can help keep your bladder healthy, but there's a catch. Scientists say when these same vegetables are cooked, something in their chemical make up makes them less effective when it comes to bladder cancer.

"When they are eaten raw, they induce a kind of enzyme that may detoxify carcinogens," says James Marshall, PhD at Roswell Park Cancer Institute.

The cruciferous vegetables that are easiest to eat raw are broccoli and cauliflower, but you can also try raw brussels sprouts or mustard and turnip greens. Scientists say you should still eat a variety of fruits and vegetables, and you may want to eat some of them raw from time to time.

Online Reporter:  Lori Lyle      llyle@wave3.com

Online Producer: Charles Gazaway  cgazaway@wave3.com