6

I have heard that uncooked vegetables, if eaten, can cause some parasitic worm infections. I have also heard that cooked vegetables can lose some valuable nutrients.

How can we manage this problem? Since for vegetarians the sources of essential nutrients are limited, we must take as much as possible from the vegetables. But I wonder how we can avoid those parasites while gaining all the nutrients in the vegetables.

  • This is one of the reasons why you'll never see salads in traditional Asian meals. Long time cooking will destroy some of the beneficial nutrients. A compromise is stir-frying which provides enough heat to destroy parasites yet is short enough to keep most of the nutrients. Moreover, in Chinese medicine cold raw veggies are seen as a source of "dumpness" or "coldness" which are considered to be the root cause of most diseases. – ccpizza Dec 6 '17 at 10:16
  • "you'll never see salads in traditional Asian meals" um, what? – Zanna May 11 '18 at 13:31
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The number one rule when dealing with any food that might have come into contact with animals or animal feces is to wash it. I could not find any other numbers than those from a study conducted in Ethiopia which notes that

It was also observed that decreased parasitic contamination was significantly associated with washing the products before displaying it for selling (P < 0.001).

Although the numbers in the associated table from the study are not as convincing at the first glance. This has to, however, take into account that almost half of the water used for washing the fruits came from the river and even the pipe water in Ethiopia may not always be 100% parasite-free.

Apart from that, there is little actual evidence in the form of hard numbers to be found, but washing is recommended as a great way of protecting yourself from parasites. If you want, you can wash your vegetables in a water-vinegar(5%) or water-salt(10%) solution as this help with removing pesticides anyway and might be helpful with parasites as well (vinegar for example is the ultimate go-to killer for almost anything as far as I know).

There is a good chance that you will at some point in your life be a host to a parasite. Prevention, like washing your fruit and cautiousness about symptoms associated with parasitic infection are the best tools you have to manage that successfully. As I am living with pets, I've fallen into the habit of taking Mebendazole sporadically to make sure I am not being parasited on. You should discuss this with your doctor though.

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