The raw food diet is based on eating raw foods only.
The principle of this diet is easy to understand. It is based on eating raw fruits & vegetables, nuts, seeds, grasses, seaweeds, flowers, nuts, sprouts, herbs, superfoods and some fermented foods.
Everything should preferably be eaten raw or slightly heated up to 45º C (118º F). Apart from that there are some other preparation methods like soaking and sprouting, juicing, blending or dehydrating allowed.
Sprouting makes it possible to eat “raw” legumes. You just have to soak them for 24 hours and then leave them out to sprout which will take approximately another 48 hours. Once you can see the tiny little tail coming out they are considered safe to eat.
This helps a lot because otherwise you won't have a lot of protein rich foods you can eat. Legumes are high in protein, fiber and a lot of vitamins and minerals and therefore add important nutrients to your diet.
The roots of the diet go back to the 1800 where a doctor was convinced he cured his jaundice by eating raw apples.
Nowadays the raw food diet often is chosen as one step further from an already vegetarian or even more from a vegan diet.
What are the health benefits of the raw food diet?
One of the biggest positive aspects of this diet is without a doubt the variety of antioxidant rich foods you take in. As fruits and vegetables are the primary food source you will eat a wide spectrum of different colours and types. All of them come with different and beneficial vitamins, minerals and other plant molecules with antioxidant properties, like flavonoids or polyphenols.
Think about antioxidants as being colour pigments in food. The more intense the colours are, the better and healthier. As you surely already know sugar, gravy sauce, white rice or pasta are definitely out of this game for obvious reasons.
All of the nutrients you can find in raw foods like fruits and vegetables have amazing health benefits and your body will detox and thrive. In 1950, Dr. Howard Westcott found that just 100 mg of greens in the diet neutralized bad breath, body odor, menstrual odors, and foul-smelling urine and stools.
There are uncountable molecules we can find in plants with health promoting benefits. Let’s just have a quick view at some of the most interesting ones:
Resveratrol: A substance found in grapes. It got popular as an ingredient of red wine, but guess what: it's not the wine, it is the grapes of which wine is made of. Alcohol has no health benefits whatsoever, it’s just more attractive to many people to sip a glass of red wine than eating a bunch of grapes. You can also find resveratrol in blueberries, raspberries and mulberries by the way
Betalain: This is a group of detoxifying enzymes found in beet roots in huge quantities. When it comes to getting rid of garbage in our body, that can be harmful, the liver is the one doing the job. These enzymes help to support detoxification of the liver. But not only that, they also have high amounts of vitamin C and vitamin K.
Vitamin C: Vitamin C is one of the most potent antioxidants. During the Corona Crisis right now there were several sites recommending the intake of high amounts of Vitamin C to combat the virus. The real scientific proof of these methods is still missing but there seem to be some cases in which it worked. What we know for sure is, that Vitamin C can help to combat disease and cell damage caused by free radicals. Vitamin C can be found in high amounts in camu camu, red bell peppers, strawberries and citric fruits.
Sulforaphanes: A molecule found in cruciferous vegetables, all above broccoli, that has anti cancer properties. Even though the quantities are low in supermarket bought broccoli and you would have to eat a high amount of raw broccoli there is still a higher chance to get beneficial ingredients into your system than if you don't eat broccoli. Apart from that, brokkoli has a numerous amount of other vitamins, minerals and fiber and this alone makes it a superfood.
Let’s just talk a bit about grasses in the raw food diet. Which ones they are and how to eat them.
Superfoods that are part of the
raw food diet
Superfoods are one of the most potent and nutrient-rich foods we have. Superfoods have the ability to tremendously increase the vitality and energy of our body and are the optimum choice for improving overall health – boosting the immune system, elevating serotonin production, enhancing sexuality, cleansing, lowering inflammation, and alkalizing the body.
Popular participants of this class of foods are cacao, maca, goji berries and algaes like Spirulina or Chlorella. These superfoods are commonly available as a powder and you can add them easily to your smoothies or juices.
Is the raw food diet safe?
Some people also add raw eggs, raw dairy products or even raw meat or fish on top of the plant based foods. This is a point where health professionals struggle with the safeness of the diet due to the risk of getting infectious diseases caused by ingesting these raw animal products.
As we already mentioned you get a lot of nutrients with this diet. Anyhow, like any other vegetarian or vegan diet, it is important to supplement Vitamin B12, as there is no ready to absorb Vitamin B12 in plant based products available.
There are some foods that should not be eaten raw or sprouted, like Kidney beans for example. Kidney beans contain a chemical called phytohaemagglutinin, which can be toxic eaten raw or as sprouts.
There is some evidence that cooking destroys certain enzymes, vitamins or minerals which is the reason why it should be eaten raw. Whereas this may be true for some foods, others develop their nutritional benefits only after they’ve been cooked. Most legumes contain phytic acid, which can block the body’s absorption of some essential minerals. Cooking reduces the level of phytic acid.
Some people might get digestive issues on a raw food diet. Raw broccoli, grasses or cabbage isn't for everyone, so we suggest you try and find out. It could be definitely worth it.
Even if followers of the raw food diet discourage people to take supplements you might consider taking the following ones due to a lack in plant based products: vitamin D, omega 3 fatty acids, iron and calcium.
Does the raw food diet work for
Given the fact that the foundation of this diet consists of healthy vegetables and fruit it is very likely that you will lose weight following a raw food diet. There is no sugar, no processed carbs, no flour, no rice, pasta etc. that could hold you back from losing weight. So if you are not eating half a kilo of nuts every day you are very likely to shred off some pounds.
Raw Food Menu Example
Raw oatmeal: Oats soaked overnight don't have to be cooked. You can add nuts, seeds, fruit and spices like cinnamon to make it a delicious and antioxidant rich breakfast.
A spicy salad with a dressing made of avocado, lime juice, cilantro, basil, dates, ginger and cayenne pepper. You can choose any veggies you fancy but the best choices in this case would be carrots, red cabbage, cucumber, bell pepper, romaine lettuce and sweet peas.
Raw vegan lasagna: You can replace the pasta by ribbons of zucchini and fill it with layers of sauces made of soaked nuts, sun-dried tomatoes or avocados. Get some inspiration here.
Everything is possible. An all time favorite is a mix of cacao nibs, pitted dates and coconut oil. If you fancy something more elaborated go for a raw vegan cheesecake for instance.
The raw food diet is a vegan diet that only consists of raw or slightly heated (up to 45ºC) fresh food. Other ways of preparation that make additional food groups, like legumes for instance, safe to eat are: dehydration, soaking, sprouting and juicing. The raw food diet is very rich in nutrients, although Vitamin B12 has to be supplemented. If practised vegetarian (raw milk or eggs) or omnivore (raw meat or fish), there is a risk of getting food-borne infectious diseases. Some people may get digestive issues due to the raw vegetables. All together this diet is very rich in nutrients that are beneficial for the body. If you tolerate it well and aim to get enough protein this diet can be a super healthy option.