Is it healthy to go raw?

Raw honey, raw almonds – the Raw Movement is about more than just not cooking your veggies Download The Car Detective! People who buy into the raw lifestyle swear by its healing and youth-renewing properties – so, what are the pros and cons of going raw?

Can I cook anything on the raw diet?

Let’s get one thing out of the way: there isn’t a total ban on cooking in the raw diet. Rather, cooking is kept to a minimum, and only at low temperatures. For true believers, the idea is that heating food over 140 degrees F destroys enzymes and vitamins – the life force – within the food.

It’s true, heating does destroy some vulnerable nutrients, like Vitamin C, but you probably choose to get your vitamin C from a fresh orange or a handful of strawberries anyway. For health reasons, you need to remember that heating foods also destroys harmful bacteria and parasites. The trick is to know which fresh vegetables and fruit are beneficial when eaten raw, and what foods work better when cooked.

Can I get all that I need from raw foods?

The short answer is: no. Some nutrients need heat, fermentation or pickling to release them, such as:

  • Cooked tomatoes offer more of the antioxidant lycopene than raw tomatoes
  • Beta-carotene in carrots and protein are absorbed less in raw foods compared to cooked foods.
  • Your body absorbs more of the iron in cooked broccoli and cabbage than when these vegetables are eaten raw.
  • Going 100% raw puts you at risk for some deficiencies: vitamin B-12, vitamin D, calcium, iron and protein. A study published in October 2005 in “The Journal of Nutrition” found that 38% of the participants on raw food diets were deficient in vitamin B-12. This vitamin keeps your body’s nerve and blood cells healthy and helps to make DNA. It is found in fish, meat, poultry, eggs, milk, and dairy products, but these are usually no-go food groups on a totally raw diet. As a result, Vitamin B-12 deficiency symptoms, like weakness and exhaustion, are not uncommon.
Read  Healthy snacks to boost your memory

What do I eat on a raw diet?

To avoid having to cook or process foods, most raw food diets are based on seeds, nuts, vegetables, and fruits. No dried beans or other pulses, fish, meat, eggs or dairy, which means most major protein-delivery systems are missing.  Nuts, seeds, some fruits and dark green vegetables contain protein and you will need to eat them every day to get what you need.

Going raw is a big commitment

Sticking to a 100% raw lifestyle takes a lot of effort. You can find yourself thinking about food all the time – sourcing, preparing and trying to balance what you eat becomes expensive and time-consuming. It can also impact social interaction: even though the raw food movement has grown, it’s not main-stream enough for you to follow it wherever you go.

Going partially raw is a smart choice

Fibre and antioxidants are what you’re after: a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and nuts can lower your risk of breast cancer, colon cancer, and heart disease, so eating more of them makes sense. Include more raw, fresh ingredients in your meals and you’ll feel the health benefits from cutting out processed and over-cooked foods.

Joanne Hart for