Monday, January 23, 2012

Cooked Food Contains More Calories

We’re often encouraged to get into the kitchen and prepare more home-cooked meals. In fact, nutrition experts suggest that this strategy could go some way toward a healthier, thinner nation. But, if the results of a study published last month in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences is anything to go by, we should be encouraging people to cook less, or rather, to eat more raw foods – especially if they have a few extra pounds they need to shift. The reason? Harvard scientists responsible for the research, found that cooking food increases the amount of energy or calories that it provides to your body.

This disparity  between cooked and raw fodder is due to the fact that the body uses more energy in digesting raw food than it does cooked food; that more of the energy available from raw food is lost to bacteria in our gut than is the case with cooked food, and that the body expends energy fighting off pathogens that are more prolific in raw food than in cooked.
The unique study which lasted 40 days, relied on 2 groups of mice that were fed a series of diets that consisted of either cooked or raw meat or cooked or raw sweet potatoes. Over the course of the study, the researchers tracked changes in the body mass of the mice, controlling for how much they ate and ran on an exercise wheel.

The results clearly demonstrated that both the cooked protein and cooked starch-rich tuber delivered more energy to the mice than raw variants of both.

“The starting energetic value of a food is based on the composition of that specific food, and that’s not going to change by cooking,” says Rachel Carmbody, the lead researcher on the study. “What cooking alters is the proportion of the energy that our bodies absorbs versus what is lost to gut bacteria, and what is excreted by our bodies. Specifically we believe that cooking reduces the energy that we use up in digestion, while increasing the amount that we absorb.”
“Because cooked food has been processed before it entered the body, some of the work in terms of breaking down that food has already been down so it saves our digestive system from working as hard. Basically cooking externalizes part of the digestive process.”

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