Cooking serves to increase the energy that is available in foods. It has been known for some time that cooking increases the calories available from starches like sweet potatoes, but recently it was discovered that cooking meats, eggs, and vegetables increases the amount of calories your body absorbs from those foods as well.
A study compared the effect of feeding mice one of four diets for four days: raw sweet potato, cooked sweet potato, raw beef, or cooked beef. The mice on the cooked diets maintained their weight, but those on the raw diet lost weight, even though they ate more calories. Despite having higher food intake and ingesting more calories, the mice lost weight simply by eating raw food.
Researchers think this is partly due to the need to chew the raw food more, and to the greater number of calories burned during digestion. Cooked foods are easier to digest as many of the compounds within them are broken down. This results in less energy expenditure from the digestion of cooked food. There is also less water in cooked food, making the cooked diets more energy dense.
Eating more of your foods in raw, or minimally cooked, will mean we decrease the energy density of the food we eat. We also will experience the various health benefits that cooking can destroy due to the heat used. We can eat significantly more raw vegetables and fruits to get the same energy intake than if those same foods were cooked or processed. Plus we get more nutrients and antioxidants too.
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