Why you need to cook these vegetables for maximum nutrition

You know you should eat your veggies — but are they better cooked or raw? Raw vegetables of all kinds are great sources of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber. However, the finest vegetables available are of no value to you if you can’t properly digest them, a key issue with some raw vegetables.
veggie culture starter

Should you eat raw or cooked? Which is better?

Eating raw cruciferous vegetables may actually suppress your thyroid’s hormone production, potentially creating fatigue, coldness in your body, and a slowing of your metabolism.1

The fermentation process helps “pre-digest” the vegetables and makes the nutrients more easily absorbed.

Cruciferous vegetables include broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, kale, mustard greens, radishes, rutabagas, and turnips.

Cabbage and its cousins in the cruciferous vegetable family are nutrient-rich, but unless you cook or ferment them, they may slow down your metabolism.1

raw food diet

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

When eating cruciferous vegetables, it’s important to cook them to avoid the possible thyroid-suppressing properties. Boiling for 30 minutes can eradicate 90 percent of the goitrogens — iodine-interfering substances that disrupt thyroid hormones — in cruciferous vegetables.2 But what if you’re committed to a raw food diet (or you simply want to enjoy them raw)?

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

Fermenting vegetables on a raw food diet: Your healthy solution

Body Ecology’s System of Health and Healing has an answer for raw foodists who want to eat cabbage, kale, and collards: Ferment them. This helps get rid of the possible thyroid-suppressing effect and also maximizes nutrition.

Many people enjoy cooked vegetables — and now those on a raw food diet can enjoy collards, kale, cabbage, and other cruciferous vegetables safely too.


  • Raw fermented vegetables are a great way for everyone to eat raw.
  • 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

Even better, 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.

raw food diet

Eating fermented foods has even been linked to lower levels of social anxiety.6

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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