By Brenna Robinson
You may have heard of the most recent diet craze touted by celebrities to improve your health, lose weight, and even prevent diseases such as diabetes and cancer. The raw food diet is extreme, but also the most basic and simple diet you have heard of in a while. The drawback, you may have a difficult time convincing your family to join in. On a positive note, meals must be a snap to prepare. You may be asking yourself, is it worth it? The answer is both yes and no and depends on what your goal is.
If you are trying to lose weight, a raw food diet could get you to your goal rather quickly. Any diet that strictly limits your choices will result in weight loss simply because you severely limit what you can eat. The raw food diet will restrict you from eating any processed and cooked foods and all meats except for sashimi, unless you’re a fan of raw meat. This leaves you with the choice of raw fruits and vegetables and nuts and seeds. Fruits and vegetables are naturally low in calories and high in fiber, which fill you up quickly resulting in weight loss. Nuts and seeds are higher in calories and supply healthy fats but again, it is difficult for most people to eat huge portions in their natural state. So, if you are looking for weight loss, the diet might be the ticket. You should always be careful not to remain on a restrictive diet for a long period time because it can result in nutritional deficiencies and decreased metabolism.
If you are thinking about trying this diet because you have been told you lose nutrients and enzymes when you cook foods, then you should think again. Certain foods have more nutrients and enzymes when cooked versus raw and vice versa. For example, Steven Schwartz from Ohio State’s Comprehensive Cancer Center reports that you absorb more lycopene from tomatoes cooked with a healthy fat, than if eaten raw (Ohio State University, 2008). Foods such as carrots and broccoli have more bioavailable antioxidants when they are cooked, according to a report from the Journal of Agriculture and Food Culture (Miglio, Chiavaro, Visconti, Fogliano, & Pellegrini, 2008). Some nutrients such as vitamin C are more fragile, making raw fruits and vegetables the better choice. So what foods should you eat cooked and what foods should you eat raw? There is no right answer, except to say you should include both raw and cooked foods in your diet to get all your needed nutrients. It is better to eat cooked broccoli than no broccoli at all.
Thirdly, should you go raw to prevent cancer, Diabetes and other diseases? The answer may be yes. It’s no surprise that processed foods are not good for our bodies. Processed foods usually contain additives and excess sugar and sodium that cause inflammation in our bodies that can lead to disease. The diet requires you to eat whole foods and keeps your hand out of the cookie jar. So, obviously you will be healthier than you if you eat all those tasty package treats.
Eating vegetables and fruits is good for you, but restricting your diet too much is likely to lead to a binge in the middle of the night. There are no black and white rules to eating, except to say everything in moderation.
Miglio, C., Chiavaro, E., Visconti, A., Fogliano, V., & Pellegrini, N. (2008). Effects of Different Cooking Methods on Nutritional. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, 139-147. Retrieved from http://pubs.acs.org/doi/pdfplus/10.1021/jf072304b
Ohio State University. (2008, 08 13). TURNING UP THE HEAT ON TOMATOES BOOSTS ABSORPTION OF LYCOPENE. Retrieved from Researchnews.osu.edu: http://researchnews.osu.edu/archive/lycoproc.htm