We get it: Kale is trendy. But if we’re being honest, eating it raw is kind of gross. (It’s rough and bitter and, unless “massaged,” it’s pretty unpleasant). But wait! Good news: Kale is actually better for you--and your tastebuds--when it’s cooked. So are these other fruits and veggies.

cooked spinach
Erin McDowell

Spinach

This leafy green is loaded with calcium, iron and magnesium. To fully absorb its goodness though, cook it. The amount of calcium in spinach will triple.

What to make: Coconut Creamed Spinach

cooked kale
Erin McDowell

Kale

Cooked kale isn’t just more palatable; it’s also healthier. Packed with fiber, the leafy green’s cholesterol-lowering abilities go into overdrive when it’s heated.

What to make: Kale Minestrone

cooked mushrooms
Erin McDowell

Mushrooms

One of the more divisive veggies, mushrooms have a tough structure that makes them hard to digest. In addition to making them more easily digestable, cooking mushrooms ensures that they’re safe to eat, as it kills any toxins that may be present.

What to make: Crispy Mushrooms

cooked carrots
Erin McDowell

Carrots

Like mushrooms, raw carrots aren’t easy to digest. By cooking them, you ensure easy digestion as well as maximum benefits from the copious amounts of beta-carotene, an antioxidant that’s converted to vitamin A and improves eye health. Looks like grandma’s insistence on boiling them wasn’t so crazy.

What to make: Whole Roasted Carrots

cooked tomato
Photo: Liz Andrew/Styling: Erin McDowell

Tomatoes

This one’s kind of surprising. We’re used to eating raw tomatoes tossed into salads or sliced over sandwiches, but it turns out the fruit’s amounts of cancer-fighting lycopene increase by about 30 percent after being heated. That makes pasta with tomato sauce an essential, right?

What to make: Roasted Tomato Soup

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