Raw food diets: Healthy or not?

Have you heard of the raw food diets? Raw food diets are essentially plant-based diets that are focusing on preventing chronic diseases by the high content of nutritive substances.  Those diets are based on the principle that cooking foods change their structure, destroying many vitamins and enzymes that are beneficial to the body.  People following those diets also see it as a more natural lifestyle. However, since raw diets, especially a raw vegan diets, are based mostly on heavy fruit and vegetables, nuts and seeds, many health practitioners suspect that one could end up with severe nutritional imbalance.  Let’s take a look on what recent research says about it.

Health benefits associated with vegan raw food diets

  • Reduced risk of cardiovascular diseases
  • Lower risk of cholesterol
  • Help people with fibromyalgia
  • Lower risk of obesity
  • Help stop smoking
  • Promote weight loss
  • Help boosting metabolism
  • Prevent high blood pressure
  • Decreased risk of cancer
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Alleviate rheumatoid arthritis symptoms

Health risks associated with vegan raw foods diets

  • Higher risk of nutritional deficiencies (vitamin B12, vitamin D, minerals and proteins)
  • Higher risk of being underweight
  • Higher risk of amenorrhea in women
  • Higher risk of low bone mass
  • Higher risk of dental erosion

People who follow a mostly raw food diet should monitor their vitamin B12 levels carefully or take a supplement.  Adding nutritional yeast into the diet can increase Vitamin B12 intake. However, the B12 concentration in nutritional yeast can vary a lot, so it still important to have your B12 levels checked regularly.  For vitamin D, again supplements can be taken, or mushrooms that have been exposed to direct sunlight can help prevent deficiencies.  People who follow a raw vegan diet should also make sure that they get a sufficient amount of calories.

There’s no need to be 100% raw to benefit from raw foods. Simply start by adding at least 1 cup of raw foods at each meal. You can start your day with fresh fruits or a delicious smoothie.  Add a big salad at lunch and at dinnertime. Choose raw snacks and desserts to complement your meals.  Eating raw foods doesn’t not necessarily mean to eat gooey green weird stuff. Raw food can be easy and delicious. Think of gazpacho, guacamole and salsa. Just let your creativity shine!

5 thoughts on “Raw food diets: Healthy or not?”

  1. I absolutely love eating raw. I started incorporating more raw vegetables into my diet sometime in August of last year and I have definitely felt the benefits of doing so – both physically and mentally. However, I am glad that you pointed out things to be cautious of – particularly nutritional deficiencies. Some people believe that eating a 100% raw food diet is totally nutritionally-sufficient, but the truth is that, unless you’re David Wolfe or something, a 100% raw vegan diet is very very difficult to thrive on. I think a good balance would be to eat at least half of your veggies, maybe up to 70-75%, raw – the important thing is to try to derive the best nutritional benefits from as many plant sources as possible, using a variety of different preparations (cooked or uncooked), and of course, to enjoy the eating experience meanwhile! It’s all about balance!

    :-) aletheia

  2. Thanks for this post! I am “into” raw foods, but at the same time like the idea of not being too intent on labeling things/diets. It seems sometimes people get caught up in the labels—-when we could just call ourselves “healthy eaters” and do whatever that entails! For me, it’s eating lots and lots of raw food, supplementing with vit D and B12, and also incorporating whole grains, plant protein, and cooked veg too (not to mention meat and cheese occasionally…ok, and a little ice cream!). As for the bone mass issue, I think some people get too hung up on that as being a problem with raw foods specifically—I just do lots of exercise and eat lots of mineral-rich greens. Hopefully this will be enough in the end!
    Thanks for your perspective. I’m enjoying browsing through your posts, and learning a lot about green living!

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