People, who follow a raw food diet, believe that the uncooked food is most healthful food for the body. Heating food or cooking food is healthy till the time the temperature stays below 104 to 118 Fahrenheit.
If the food is overcooked, it burns all natural enzymes present in it. According to raw Foodists, enzymes are considered the life force of any food. Enzymes help us in better digestion and absorption of nutrients. Our bodies have to work harder for us, when we consume only cooked food. As a result, a lack of enzymes causes different other problems like nutrient deficiency, digestive problems, weight gain and accelerated aging.
Food loses its nutritional value if it is overcooked. For example, when broccoli is overcooked, it loses sulforaphanes, which are very effective cancer-fighting compounds.
Overcooking of broccoli also destroys vitamins like Vitamin C and folate, due to excess heat. There are certain foods, which provide more benefits after cooking. For example, cooked tomatoes have three to four times more lycopene than raw tomatoes.
Food that is cooked a lot causes the formation of harmful compounds in food like advanced glycation end products and heterocyclic amines.
How to follow a raw food diet?
A raw food diet is followed in different ways by different people. A raw food diet is specially followed by vegans. Some people consume raw animal products like raw milk, cheese made from raw milk, ceviche, sashimi, or carpaccio. Some people consume only raw foods. Some people consume cooked food for convenience and variety.
Raw food diet acts as a very effective detox diet. It cleanses the entire body within the time span of 3 to 21 days. Therefore, many people have started switching to a raw food diet for this essence.
How to prepare raw food?
- Sprouting and soaking
The enzymes present in raw beans, nuts, legumes and seeds contain enzyme inhibitors, which destroy the process of cooking. The nutrients can be released by sprouting them or soaking them. To start with germination, you need to soak it in water for some time. The germination time varies from 2 hours to one day. The raw Foodists say that it is sufficient and convenient to soak overnight. It is important to start with raw and dried organic seeds, legumes, beans and nuts.
Wash nuts, beans, seeds or legumes and place them into a glass container. Add water and soak the seeds at room temperature for one night. Mung beans require complete 24 hours.
Seeds,legumes, or beans can be sprouted after germination. Place them in a container, after draining excess water. Leave them at room temperature. As the seed or a legume will open, a sprout will come out of it. Rinse them and drain them well. Store them in a refrigerator in an airtight container for 5 days.
Food can be heated in a dehydrator for sun drying. Dehydrators are closed containers with heated elements that warm the containers at lower temperatures. They can be used to make kale chips, crackers, croutons, breads and fruit leathers. Make sure not to increase the temperature of dehydrator beyond 118 F.
Food can be easily chopped or blended by using a food processor or blender to make smoothies, hummus, soups and pasta.
What should you avoid in the raw food diet?
Some beans are highly nutritious when soaked or sprouted while others are considered unsafe to eat without cooking like soy beans, kidney beans, and fava beans. Other foods that should not be consumed raw are:
- Buckwheat greens
- Rhubarb leaves
- Cassava and cassava flour
Benefits of Raw Food Diet
People who consume raw foods receive many benefits like:
- Increased energy
- Clearer skin
- Weight loss
- Reduced risk of disease
The raw food diet has fewer saturated fats and trans fats than the typical western diet. It is also low in sugar and sodium. It has high contents of vitamin A, potassium, folate, magnesium, fiber and health promoting antioxidants. Raw food diet reduces the risk of diabetes, heart disease and cancer.
Raw food diet also has an acid-alkaline balance, being low in acid forming food. It also slows the aging process and decreases inflammation because it has fewer advanced glycation end products and other damaging compounds.
Other nutrients present in raw food diet are:
Fat: Raw food diet primarily contains veggies and fruits; therefore, they do not contain any unhealthy fats. It only contains healthy unsaturated fats.
Protein: It has recommended amount of proteins like nuts and seeds, green leafy vegetables, beans, grains and other raw protein sources.
Carbohydrates: Carbohydrates are present between the ranges of carb consumption.
The other key nutrients present in raw foods are Fiber, Potassium, Calcium, Vitamin B-12 and Vitamin D.