Raw Versus Cooked Foods for Your Parrot.  Which is best?

Whether cooked vegetables or raw vegetables are best actually depends on the type of vegetable. Cooked vegetables have a different nutrient quantity and quality than raw vegetables because heating them alters their chemical composition. Depending on the vegetable, this can be a good thing.

In general, MOST foods contain the most nutrition raw. So it's best to feed raw. 

Broccoli, cauliflower and kale, for example, offer far more vitamins as a raw vegetable because their water soluble vitamins (like C and B1) would break down under high heat. However there are a few exceptions.  Below are a few examples of vegetables whose nutrition is enhanced or better absorbed when cooked. 

A side note about dried beans/legumes:

Most dried beans like navy, lima, fava and kidney beans should NEVER be fed raw.  The only legumes and beans safe to feed without cooking are Mung, Adzuki and Garbanzo beans, lentils and peas.  These are most nutritious when soaked and sprouted. 

feeding dried beans to parrots


The exceptions

Steamed or boiled sweet potatoes contain more vitamins and minerals than raw and become more digestible.  

Raw carrots offer more vitamin C but the beta carotene is better absorbed when they're cooked.  Since very few vegetables and fruit compare to carrots in terms of beta carotene content, you may want to cook your carrots.

Tomatoes offer the maximum nutritional benefit when heated.  Carotenoids and lycopene are not only heat stable, but actually more absorbable once foods are cooked.

Of course, carrots and tomatoes contain more nutrients than only carotenoids, so a combination of raw and cooked may be your best bet.

  raw versus cooked foods for parrots



Current research shows that feeding a large variety of foods is the best way we can cover our parrots nutritional bases. This includes a combination of lots of vegetables, greens, grains (as sprouts), along with some fruits, nuts and seeds.

An unbalanced diet is the main cause of disease and early death in parrots. No single food should be fed exclusively...like feeding only seed for example.  

The most important consideration when deciding whether to feed raw or cooked foods is to find out how YOUR parrot will eat the biggest variety. If your parrot won't eat raw foods, then meet them where they're at...because serving them food in this very nutritious form doesn't do anything for them if nothing gets eaten. You could start by steaming them, and eventually you can transition them to eating more raw foods where most of them will pack the most nutritional "punch". 


Offering whole foods for your parrot is great, but they don't do much good if your  parrot won't eat them.  If you have trouble getting your parrot to eat whole foods check out our FREE "Survival Guide to a Picky Parrot" with lots of great tips and tricks. Just enter your email in the box below and it will be delivered to your inbox. 


 free guide to a picky parrot


Cooked Vegetables vs Raw Vegetables: Which is Healthier by Amy Myers MD

Five things you need to know about cooked vs. raw vegetables by Joel Fuhrman MD. 

Avian Medicine: Principles and Application By Branson Ritchie, Greg J Harrison, Don Zantop and Linda Harrison. 

Parrot Nutrition Guide by World Parrot Trust



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