Raw or Cooked Vegetables? There are certain advantages to eating cooked vegetables. Cooking a vegetable can increase the availability of beta-carotene because it is released from storage sites in plant cells. Cooking starchy vegetables breaks down starch granules so they can be digested. On the other hand there are advantages to eating vegetables raw. Raw vegetables may contain higher levels of heat-sensitive nutrients because cooking decreases the content of watersoluble vitamins. For example, baked potatoes and sweet potatoes lose about 20 percent of the B vitamins and vitamin C. Boiling causes lower losses. Boiling leaches B vitamins and minerals out of vegetables. Losses may be as high as 80 percent. Steaming and microwave cooking of vegetables greatly reduces this loss. Boiling also removes vitamins and minerals. Note that keeping foods warm on a steam table increases the loss of vitamins such as vitamin C, thiamin, and riboflavin. On the other hand, vegetables that have not been stored properly, or have been handled carelessly, can suffer similar nutrient losses. Slicing, mashing, dicing, mincing, and grating break vegetable cells and expose vitamins to oxygen and degradative enzymes. Vitamin C is especially sensitive to oxygen exposure. The longer the storage period for sliced vegetables, the greater the loss of vitamin C.