A diet high in fresh fruits and vegetables is recommended by experts at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Raw foodies take it one step farther, insisting that a raw foods diet consisting of only whole grains, nuts, seeds and raw fruits and vegetables is the healthiest way to eat. As with so many things, there is a lot of information available on raw food diets, and not all of it is reliable.
Raw food diets consisting of vegetables and fruits are packed with vitamins and fiber. Eating a diet high in raw fruits and vegetables fills you up while keeping your calorie count down. Fruits and vegetables contain no animal fats, and the natural sugars provide plenty of energy. Vegetarians, vegans and raw foodists believe that avoiding animal products and starchy carbohydrates is a morally and ecologically superior way to live.
Many raw foodists believe that cooking fruits and vegetables robs them of essential nutrients. The undesirable level of heat varies between 112 degrees Fahrenheit and 118 degrees Fahrenheit, but almost all raw foodists believe that juicing and slow cooking in a low-temperature dehydrator is better for you. In reality, many fruits and vegetables are difficult for humans to digest raw. According to the experts at the University of California, some nutrients -- like the lycopene in tomatoes and higher levels of beta carotene in carrots – are more efficiently released through cooking.
A 2005 study published in “The Journal of Nutrition” confirms that a diet high in raw fruits and vegetables does lower levels of LDL cholesterol and triglycerides, but it also found that people who stay on a diet consisting only of raw fruits and vegetables are at risk for low levels of vitamin B-12 and other nutrients.
Eating a diet high in raw fruits and vegetables provides you with a lot of essential nutrients with relatively few calories. Avoiding animal products can help lower your risk of heart disease, high blood pressure and strokes. Many processed foods contain artificial sweeteners and other chemical additives that may not be healthy in the long term.
The drawback of a diet that eliminates all foods except for raw fruits and vegetables is that you may not be getting all of the nutrients you need for your body to function properly. Your body requires eight essential amino acids that it can’t produce itself, and these are found mostly in high-protein foods like poultry, meat, fish and dairy. Not eating a balanced, nutrient rich diet can lead to malnutrition.
- Centers or Disease Control and Prevention: Healthy Eating for a Healthy Weight
- International Vegetarian Union: History of Vegetarianism - Sylvester Graham (1795-1851)
- Journal of Nutrition: Long-term Consumption of a Raw Food Diet is Associated With Favorable Serum LDL Cholesterol and Triglycerides But Also With elevated Plasma Homocysteine and Low Serum HDL Cholesterol in Humans
- Raw Food Life: The Science of Raw Food
- University of California at Santa Cruz: Are Living Foods Getting a Raw Deal?