Basics of Raw Food Nutrition


by Yuri Elkaim, BPHE, CK, RHN
Author, Eating for Energy

So, you have heard about this raw food phenomenon, but you really don’t know much about it. It sounds like all you will be doing is chewing on carrots, sucking back smoothies and eating salads for every meal. Is that really enough? What sort of nutrition do you get on a raw food diet?

There are a number of nutritional benefits to consuming more raw foods:

Enzymes. There are natural enzymes that live within foods. These wonderful enzymes are incredibly helpful to the human body, especially aiding in digestion. When raw, living enzymes are consumed, those enzymes are used by the body to help digest the foods they came in on. When that happens, the body is required to use fewer of its own resources in order to process the food you eat, and eliminate the wastes that are left over. That means that the energy in your body is able to be utilized for other functions. Sadly, when you cook foods, most of these enzymes are killed off, and the resulting food has to be completely processed on the bodyís own resources.

Vitamins. This is another area where raw foods are much better for you. When cooked, many foods will bleed out a lot of their natural vitamins and nutrients, especially when boiled. These vitamins are water solvable, so they are easily carried away by boiling waters, leaving you with a lump of mushy, less nutrient-rich mass that will do less for your body than its original components would have.

Carcinogens: Many types of cooking processes have been shown to produce carcinogenic by-products on the foods that are being prepared. While studies are unsure as to what exactly the long-term effects are of these carcinogens on foods, it can safely be said that consuming foods that are not prepared in these methods should have much less of a risk than these cooked items.

The most well-known example of this is the grilling of meats, which can produce a charred outer surface that has been shown to contain some levels of carcinogens. For those who want to include meats in their diets without this concern, there are preparation methods that allow people to eat them raw. Beef can be eaten as a carpaccio, while fish can be served as sashimi. This can be highly beneficial, especially with fish that have been shown to contain essential fatty acids that are incredibly good for us.

Probiotics: Many people who consume dairy products now do so with the addition of pro-biotics. These bacteria are the very same ones killed off by the pasteurization process, showing that while there may be health concerns with raw dairy products, there are many benefits as well.

Of course, not everything is rosy on a raw food diet. Some vitamins, including vitamin B12, are harder to find for those who follow a raw food diet, and as a result, they may have to consume a supplement in order to get what their body needs.

On the whole, however, raw food is far more nutritious than what is typically offered in cooked and prepared food items.



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