Raw foodism is an eating system that concentrates on eating only foods that are unprocessed and uncooked. Most raw foodists are vegetarians but some also consume animal products. Some raw foodists also eat meat. This is a controversial choice, as raw meat is a potential carrier of E. coli and other harmful bacteria. Pregnant women, children and those with a compromised immune system should not eat raw meat. Still, there might be some benefits to eating raw, but check with your doctor before doing so.
No Heterocyclic Amines
Cooking meat releases heterocyclic amines, or HCAs. These are chemical compounds that form when you cook meat directly over an open flame or in extreme heat, such as during smoking or grilling. According to the National Cancer Institute, HCAs cause cancer in animals, although no studies exist on whether the effect is the same in humans. Raw meats contain no HCAs so any potential cancer risk is gone.
Cooked meat is harder to digest than raw meat, according to a 2006 report in the “Molecular Nutrition & Food Research” journal. This is due in part to salt, oil and other items added to the meat during the cooking process. In the study, cooked meat lost 6 percent of its amino acid content after cooking. The hotter the cooking process, the harder the meat is to digest.
Most people who advocate raw meat eating also suggest eating grass-fed, organic meats. This is to avoid possible contamination with E. coli and other dangerous bacteria but also to get more vitamins and nutrients. Commercially grown cattle receive antibiotics and other chemicals you don’t want to eat, especially if you’re consuming the meat raw.
Cooking destroys some of the healthy enzymes present in food. Some of these enzymes are essential for biochemical reactions in the body. When you cook meat, you’re killing these enzymes, so the food is not as healthy and “alive” as it was before. According to a 2005 article in “The Independent,” these enzymes are a good source of energy for your body. As you cook the meat, you lose them.
- “Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology”; Digestibility of Processed Food Protein; R. E. Oste; 1991
- National Cancer Institute: Chemicals in Meat Cooked at High Temperatures and Cancer Risk
- The Independent; The Raw Meat Diet: Do You Have the Stomach for the Latest Celebrity Food Fad?; Steve Bloomfield; June 2005
- Live Science; The Raw Food Diet: A Raw Deal; Christopher Wanjek; July 2006