cooked vs raw veggies - why you need to cook or ferment cruciferous vegetables

Why You Need To Cook Or Ferment Cruciferous Vegetables For Maximum Nutrition

Content reviewed by Donna Gates
Written by Body Ecology on April 25th, 2022

You know you should eat your veggies — but are they better cooked or raw? Certain raw vegetables are great sources of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber. However, vegetables are of no value if you can’t properly digest them — a key issue with raw cruciferous vegetables.

Cruciferous Vegetables Are Nutrient-Dense, But Shouldn’t Be Eaten Raw

Cruciferous vegetables, which include broccoli, brussel sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, kale, mustard greens, radishes, rutabagas, and turnips should not be eaten raw. Cabbage and its cousins in the cruciferous vegetable family are nutrient-rich, but eating too many of  them raw may actually suppress your thyroid’s hormone production, potentially creating fatigue, coldness in your body, and a slowing of your metabolism.¹

raw food diet

How To Safely Eat Cruciferous Vegetables

So, how can you get the benefits of these great cruciferous vegetables without all the negative effects?

Cruciferous vegetables should ideally be cooked or fermented before eating to avoid the possible thyroid-suppressing properties. 

Boiling them for 30 minutes can eradicate 90 percent of the goitrogens — iodine-interfering substances that disrupt thyroid hormones — in cruciferous vegetables.²

If boiling broccoli for 30 minutes doesn’t sound appetizing, or you’re committed to a raw food diet, you’ll want to learn how to ferment vegetables. This helps get rid of the goitrogens and also maximizes nutrition.

Curious about cultured veggies? There’s a course for that. Learn how to make home-fermenting easy!

Health Benefits Of Fermented Vegetables

veggie culture starter

In addition to giving raw foodists a safe way to eat cruciferous vegetables, fermented veggies have many amazing health benefits:

  • The fermentation process helps “pre-digest” the vegetables and makes the nutrients more easily absorbed.
  • Fermentation of vegetables provides an amazing diversity of nutrients and also microbes, which is essential for a hardy microbiome and a stronger immune system.  
  • They are linked to a longer lifespan and healthier aging. 
  • They provide an abundance of necessary plant-based enzymes that ease digestion and help populate your stomach with good bacteria.
  • The fermentation process supports the growth of these good microbes; once in your body, they may help prevent viral and fungal infections, boost immunity, and increase the nutrient value of your food.³⁻⁵
  • Eating fermented foods has even been linked to lower levels of social anxiety.

How To Ferment Vegetables At Home

Best of all, raw fermented vegetables are easy to make at home. It’s as simple as mixing chopped veggies with any of our Body Ecology Starters and letting them ferment at room temperature for about a week.

We have step-by-step instructions that explain the whole process. Once you see how easy it is, get creative with your cultured veggie recipes!  If you create a great new recipe you want to share with others in our worldwide Body Ecology community, please email us, and we’ll happily post it on our social feeds.

raw food diet

So, if you’ve had trouble digesting raw vegetables in the past, try fermented veggies. Vegetables should be a key staple in your diet — ideally, 80 percent of what you eat overall. Whether you’re a raw foodist, a veggie-lover, or someone who wants to get more benefits from the foods you eat, fermenting vegetables provides a delicious way to help improve your health.


  1. 1. Bajaj JK, Salwan P, Salwan S. Various Possible Toxicants Involved in Thyroid Dysfunction: A Review. J Clin Diagn Res. 2016;10(1):FE01-FE3. doi:10.7860/JCDR/2016/15195.7092.
  2. 2. McMillan M, Spinks EA, Fenwick GR. Preliminary observations on the effect of dietary brussels sprouts on thyroid function. Hum Toxicol. 1986 Jan;5(1):15-9. doi: 10.1177/096032718600500104. PMID: 2419242.
  3. 3. Anna Peters, Petra Krumbholz, Elisabeth Jäger, Anna Heintz-Buschart, Mehmet Volkan Çakir, Sven Rothemund, Alexander Gaudl, Uta Ceglarek, Torsten Schöneberg, Claudia Stäubert. Metabolites of lactic acid bacteria present in fermented foods are highly potent agonists of human hydroxycarboxylic acid receptor 3. PLOS Genetics, 2019; 15 (5): e1008145 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pgen.1008145.
  4. 4. Scheers N, Rossander-Hulthen L, Torsdottir I, Sandberg AS. Increased iron bioavailability from lactic-fermented vegetables is likely an effect of promoting the formation of ferric iron (Fe(3+)). Eur J Nutr. 2016;55(1):373-382. doi:10.1007/s00394-015-0857-6.
  5. 5. Melini F, Melini V, Luziatelli F, Ficca AG, Ruzzi M. Health-Promoting Components in Fermented Foods: An Up-to-Date Systematic Review. Nutrients. 2019;11(5):1189. Published 2019 May 27. doi:10.3390/nu11051189.
  6. 6. Matthew R. Hilimire, Jordan E. DeVylder, Catherine A. Forestell. Fermented foods, neuroticism, and social anxiety: An interaction model. Psychiatry Research, 2015; 228 (2): 203 DOI: 10.1016/j.psychres.2015.04.023.

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