I’ve been asked a lot lately about the benefits of a ‘raw diet’. A traditional raw diet is one where you eat 80% of your foods in a raw state, nothing cooked above 116 degrees. The premise is based on the idea that raw foods are living and cooking destroyes these benefitial enzymes. A raw food diet primarily consists of fruits, vegetables, dried fruit, seeds, nuts, sprouted grains, nuts and seaweed. While it may seem like a very healthy dietary approach, I am turned off by the premise and the false claims it’s proponents make.
This blog post will be about a raw food diet as described above. Of course I am a fan of raw foods as a component of the diet, but as a registered dietitian and nutrition professional I would never recommend this type of diet to any of my clients.
Most of you who are regular followers of Delicious Knowledge are more than likely vegetarian, vegan, or aiming to consume less animal products. My overall response when I hear people claim the health benefits of a raw food diet? Compared to what? Yes, an individual who is eating a diet of mostly processed grains, meats, sugar and salt will benefit from adding more fruits and vegetables to their diet. But a raw food diet compared to a healthy vegan/vegetarian diet? I disagree.
Let’s look at this objectively. Is cooking evil? When food is heated, absorption is aided. Cooking allows for easier absorption of certain minerals, antioxidants and proteins. Cooking also makes some foods less toxic, like broccoli. Cooking can damage some vitamins if cooked for a long period of time. Certain methods of heating food, like boiling, can cause some vitamins to be lost in the cooking water.
The argument of enzymes makes little sense. The acid in your stomach will destroy most raw food enzymes before they can provide much benefit to you. Raw foodist should make sure they are receiving enough B12, calcium, fat, protein and DHA, all which could be very hard to get in adequate amounts when on a raw food diet.
In conclusion, I feel that a raw food diet causes more harm than good. For one, it’s not based on credible science. Anything that promotes a very hard lifestyle to follow without any evidence to back it up, makes me think twice. Also, a raw food diet could be anything, as long as it’s raw. Just because it’s a raw food, doesn’t give it a health halo.
As always, I would love to hear your comments, questions, and feedback.
Have a great weekend,