The Raw Food Diet is a dietary approach where both cooked and processed food is eliminated. Supporters believe that heat eliminates nutrients from food. Therefore, they fall into the conclusion that raw food is the ultimate healthy way of eating.
Many people also believe that this diet helps with headaches, diabetes, heart failure, and cancer prevention.
In this article, we will elaborate on whether the Raw Food Diet is the best option to lead a healthy lifestyle.
How does it work?
The Raw Food Diet consists of consuming about 70 to 80 percent of raw food in your diet. However, it allows you to heat food above 118 degrees Fahrenheit. To prevent food poisoning, people usually aim for a vegetarian or vegan eating plan. Nonetheless, for some, the diet approves the consumption of raw animal products, including unpasteurized dairy.
Foods allowed in a Raw Food Diet are:
- Vegetables. Fresh or sun-dried. You can either eat them whole or make juices and smoothies with them. Vegetables that are a great source of protein and healthy fats are avocados, kale, broccoli, and cabbage; these should be consumed in plentiful doses.
- Fruits. Fresh or sun-dried. It is recommended to eat them whole to obtain the fiber, rather than just getting sugar from juices.
- Grains. Soaked and sprouted whole grains like brown rice, oats, wheat germ, or quinoa.
- Nuts and Seeds. Almonds, peanuts, chia, pecans. You can implement them to salads, smoothies, or even do a homemade trail mix.
- Legumes. Soaked and sprouted legumes like chickpeas, lentils, green peas, mung beans.
As an exception to the main principle of the Raw Food Diet, cooking increases the number of antioxidants of certain foods, such as carrots, spinach, and tomatoes. In those cases, cooking reduces the food portion that your body needs.
Processed foods contain high amounts of sugar and sodium. Avoiding such foods while focusing on eating plenty of vegetables and fruits will bring you health benefits like:
- Stable blood pressure
- Ease of inflammation
- Weight loss
- Prevent or help with conditions like heart failure, type 2 diabetes, kidney disease.
Downsides of the Raw Food Diet
The main downside of this diet comes with people depriving themselves of foods that cannot be safely ingested in its raw state. The cons of not cooking your food are the following:
- Malnutrition. Needing to take supplements to balance the exclusion of animal products. For example protein, vitamin B12, and calcium.
- Intoxication. Cooking kills bacteria like salmonella found in raw eggs, beef, milk, or chicken.
- Non-digestible foods. Beyond the risk of food poisoning, there are raw foods that contain anti-nutrients and should be cooked before eating them. Some of them are legumes and beans like soy, fava beans, and kidney beans.
Is the Raw Food Diet Sustainable?
It is possible to sustain a Raw Food Diet in the long run. Nonetheless, it should be complemented with nutritional supplements that compensate for the lack of protein and vitamins. Otherwise, this could lead to health issues like bone loss.
Also, consider that exclusively eating raw food reduces the food options and, over time, it becomes harder to commit to the diet. For many, this is just a matter of getting creative with the recipes.
To conclude, both raw food and cooked food offer health benefits. Whether you pursue this diet or not, keep in mind that the key to achieving good health is to maintain a good nutritional balance.
Z.E.N. Foods designs personalized eating plans to suit your necessities. Consult with our nutritionists to start a clean and healthy lifestyle today.