Everyone knows: cooking destroys vitamins.
But that is not all. Cooking can create a variety of toxins (including carcinogens), which is often left out when talking about the health benefits of plants. Yes, the raw plant contains various vitamins, minerals, proteins, sugars and other nutrients, but what will be left after you cook it?
But cooking does much more than just reducing the nutritional value of your food. It changes the taste, so that the food tastes “better” to us. Most people would agree that a cooked potato, a cooked pumpkin, cooked spinach, cooked brussel sprouts and cooked beans taste better. Cooking changes the chemical composition, and through the heating/boiling/roasting/grilling/baking existing molecules are changed and new ones created. Food becomes sweeter, softer, and easier to chew.
In changing the taste, we trick one of our most important features: our instinct. As all other animals, humans have an instinct that tells them what to eat. The instinct works through changing the taste so that the food we need tastes better to us.
A cat that is sick and eats grass doesn’t think “Today I don’t feel so well, I better eat some medicinal herbs”; her instinct changes her perception so that grass suddenly has a very pleasant smell (that it doesn’t have when the cat is not sick) – her body tells her what to eat so that the sickness is cured as fast as possible.
With cooked food we change the taste of our food so that everything tastes good – whether we need it or not. We tend to overeat, which basically can’t happen on a raw diet, since the taste changes and becomes rather unpleasant when your body has enough. Regular overeating is directly connected with a variety of health problems and the leading causes of death in our society.
Chewing softer food made our jaws shrink and weakened our teeth, so that today dental problems are a ubiquitous phenomenon.
We don’t eat only raw food, but we eat a big variety of raw vegetables and fruit every day, like most hunter-gatherer/horticultural societies today and in the past. Eating a 100% raw diet can be useful to fight diseases (instinctotherapy) and if you want to be as healthy as our paleolithic ancestors.