Chopping vegetables before eating them boosts their nutrients, making leafy greens that much healthier for you.
While blending and pureeing can destroy the fiber in fruits and vegetables, chopping them releases healthy enzymes that support digestion.
A New York-based nutritionist told Daily Mail Online that by slicing veggies you’re improving the process that’s already done by your teeth when you chew.
She broke down the benefits of cutting into veggies before you eat them and warns not to let them sit too long before you do.
Chopping vegetables releases healthy enzymes that are good for digestion, a New York-based nutritionist told Daily Mail Online
New York nutritionist and owner of Head to Health, Carly Feigan, told Daily Mail Online that chopping vegetables releases nutrients faster.
‘It’s always good to have the vegetables broken down because that’s what our teeth do,’ Feigan said.
‘We can start that process sooner before they hit our tongue and get the enzymes going,’ she added.
Not only do vegetables contain nutrients such as vitamin C and potassium, but they also include polyphenols.
Polyphenols are compounds that give plants color, give veggies a bitter taste and produce antioxidants.
Antioxidants protect the body from damage caused by harmful molecules and support the body’s defense system.
A study found that chopping specific vegetables, such as carrots, can boost antioxidant levels by nearly 200 percent.
However, the enzymes that are produced when vegetables are chopped are the same ones that turn apples and avocados brown once they are exposed to the air.
This process is known as enzymatic browning.
While keeping fruits and vegetables refrigerated after cutting into them can reduce them from browning, Feigan warns that leaving them uneaten for too long depletes their nutrients.
HOW ‘HEALTHY’ JUICES ARE NOT SO GOOD FOR YOU
Studies have shown juicing comes with many health advantages, like a lower risk of heart disease, obesity and an increased intake of healthy antioxidants.
However, experts explained to Daily Mail Online how the risks of juicing outweigh the benefits.
Juices containing beets, carrots and apples could contain more than 30 grams of sugar.
The high sugar content in juices can have adverse health effects for diabetics and pre-diabetics
Juicing extracts the skin and most of the fiber from fruits and vegetables, significantly reducing their nutrients.
As a result, the juice itself has a different nutritive value and doesn’t offer the same health benefits as whole fruits and vegetables.
Since juices don’t contain fiber and have less an effect on satiety compared to solid foods it can lead to overeating and weight gain.
‘If you eat the chopped vegetables immediately you get the benefit of having those nutrients abundantly available,’ she said.
Slicing through cell walls of veggies stops the movement of nutrients carried by water, such as vitamin C and folate.
Therefore, the longer the veggies go sliced and uneaten the more the nutrients decompose.
A study from the University of California shows that vegetables can lose 15 to 55 percent of vitamin C within a week and spinach can lose up to 90 percent within the first 24 hours after harvest.
Feigan said the same goes for blending fruits and vegetables.
‘If you leave a smoothie around for three hours you’re not going to get the benefit from it,’ Feigan said.
‘The nutrients in freshly squeezed orange juice evaporate after 30 seconds,’ she added.
This is especially important to keep in mind when buying pre-cut fruits and vegetables.
Feigan said that our teeth will naturally take care of the chopping process to release all the enzymes, however slicing them beforehand can only help.
‘If you don’t chop them first and chew them really well you can still get the same benefits,’ she said.
‘But if the vegetables aren’t being broken down fully with our teeth, the chopping process could actually get those nutrients out of the food for you,’ she added.