Pros & Cons of Raw Food Diets

Raw food diets are eating plans in which you eat all foods uncooked, heated to no more than 140 degrees F. Most raw food diets are based heavily, if not exclusively, on vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds. Proponents claim that raw food diets are more natural and will help you lose weight, have more energy and flush out toxins. But some raw food diets can come up short in terms of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.

A platter of appetizers made with raw foods. (Image: Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images)

Pros

Raw food diets emphasize vegetables, fruits and nuts, all loaded with healthful nutrients. Uncooked fruits and vegetables also retain water-soluble vitamins, especially vitamin C, that can be lost in cooking. You'll be cutting out processed foods such as baked goods and fried foods, and will probably lose weight on a raw foods diet, according to Dr. David Katz, director of the Yale Prevention Research Center, in a 2012 HuffPost Healthy Living article.

Cons

Cooking increases the amount of the antioxidant lycopene, a red pigment in vegetables such as tomatoes. If you're on a vegan raw food diet, you may need to take supplements to get enough vitamin D, iron, zinc and vitamin B-12. A study published in October 2005 in "The Journal of Nutrition" found that 38 percent of the study participants on raw food diets were deficient in vitamin B-12. Eating raw eggs and unpasteurized dairy products can also increase the risk of foodborne illness.

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