Raw Food Diet – What to Eat and What to Avoid?

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Raw Food Diet

The raw food diet, otherwise called raw foodism or rawism, is the practice of eating only uncooked and unprocessed food. Depending on the lifestyle and philosophy, the raw food diet comprises a selection of vegetables, fruits, seeds, nuts, fish, meat, eggs, and dairy products. Raw food diet involves eating foods cooked below 48°C. However, foods should also be unpasteurized, unrefined, and pesticide-free. Instead, this diet allows other alternative preparation methods, such as shredding, chopping, grinding, juicing, dehydrating, blending, soaking, and sprouting. The raw food diet’s basic concept is to consume food with its natural enzymes that get destroyed while cooking (1, 2). These enzymes help to digest and absorb the nutrients. The diet also contains processed foods such as cheese, different sprouted seeds, and fermented foods like yogurts. Like the Vegan diet, this diet is usually plant-based, mostly made up of fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds. However, some people also include raw eggs and dairy. Sometimes raw fish and meat may also be included. Since raw food diet gives all the required nutrients, taking supplements is discouraged. People who follow this diet believe that consuming raw foods can improve their health and well-being.

The Three Types of Raw Food Diet

  • A raw vegan diet eliminates all animal products and focuses only on plant-based foods.
  • A raw omnivorous diet comprises raw animal products, plant-based foods, and dried or raw meat.
  • A raw vegetarian diet comprises plant-based foods, unprocessed dairy products, and raw eggs.

Foods to Eat and Avoid on the Raw Food Diet

What to Eat

  • Raw nuts and seeds
  • All raw fresh fruits and vegetables
  • Dried vegetables and fruits
  • Raw nut butter, including almond butter and peanut butter
  • Sprouted, raw or soaked grains, beans, and other legumes
  • Coconut milk
  • Raw nut milk, like almond milk
  • Seaweeds     
  • Sprouts 
  • Freshly made vegetable and fruit juices
  • Cold-pressed seed, vegetable, and nut oils
  • Fermented, pickled, or marinated foods (note the label it’s raw or unpasteurized)
  • Nutritional yeast
  • Raw eggs and dairy, if desired
  • Dehydrated meat and fish, if desired
  • Other natural, organic, or unprocessed foods

What to Avoid

  • Table salt
  • Refined oils, sugars, and flour
  • Cooked vegetables, fruits, grains, and meats
  • Tea and coffee
  • Alcohol
  • Pasta  
  • Baked items
  • Roasted nuts and seeds, including their butter
  • Pasteurized juices and dairy products
  • Other processed foods and snacks

A Sample Menu of Raw Food Diet

Day 1

Breakfast: green smoothie.

Snack: jicama sticks and pepitas.

Lunch: raw squash noodle pasta with pesto.

Snack: raw hummus and carrots.

Dinner: raw vegetable pizza.

Day 2

Breakfast: chia seed pudding with fruit.

Snack: carrots and cheese.

Lunch: walnut and apple salad.

Snack: freshly squeezed juice and nuts.

Dinner: chopped veggies and raw veggie sushi.

Day 3

Breakfast: overnight oatmeal with fruit and nut milk.

Snack: broccoli and raw hummus.

Lunch: raw squash noodle pasta with pesto.

Snack: raw sweet potato chips with sprouted lentil taco dip.

Dinner: stuffed Portobello mushrooms.

Day 4

Breakfast: lavender berry bowl.

Snack: banana and raw nut butter.

Lunch: salad with nuts and figs.

Snack: strawberries and almonds.

Dinner: raw lasagna.

Day 5

Breakfast: green smoothie.

Snack: apple and berries.

Lunch: Waldorf salad.

Snack: a chocolate snack bar.

Dinner: raw tomato soup with marinated veggies.

Day 6

Breakfast: soaked oats with berries.

Snack: sliced bell pepper and sunflower seeds.

Lunch: salad with figs and nuts.

Snack: veggie sticks and sprouted hummus.

Dinner: raw veggie sushi and chopped veggies.

Day 7

Breakfast: raw banana pancakes and fruit.

Snack: orange slices and nuts.

Lunch: salad with fruit and avocado.

Snack: apple and raw almond butter.

Dinner: kale and mushroom salad.

Health Benefits of Raw Food Diet

1. Lowers Processed Food

Processed foods are usually higher in sugar, salt, and unhealthful saturated fats, prompting inflammation of blood vessels and cardiovascular disease. Therefore, eliminating these foods have significant health benefits.

2. Weight Loss

Eating uncooked foods can help people to lose weight easily (3). Because these foods are usually low in calories, and plant-based foods are rich in fiber, as well as the absence of salt, cooking oils, or sugar. The fiber content makes you feel full for a longer period.

3. Rich in Nutrients

A raw food diet comprises fruits, vegetables, nuts, and legumes, all of which help maintain body health. Consuming these foods will provide plenty of vitamins, minerals, protein, and healthy fats. Cooking destroys certain nutrients, like water-soluble vitamin C and vitamin B. So, eating foods in raw gives plenty of health benefits to your body.

4. Retains Enzymes in Foods

Raw foods have some natural enzymes, which are responsible for digestion and energy production in your body. But, high heating or cooking may destroy the natural enzymes in these foods, as well as few essential vitamins. Besides, our body needs these enzymes to digest foods fully in our stomach. So, consuming raw or whole foods provides many health benefits and maintains your body strong and healthy.

Risks in Raw Food Diet

Some raw foods are not safe to eat because these foods have harmful bacteria like E.coli. Cooking destroys bacteria, toxins, and other germs in foods, and prevents the risk of food poisoning. Always wash the plant-based food items thoroughly before eating them. Here are a few foods that should be consumed with caution:

Kidney Beans: Kidney bean sprouts and raw kidney beans may be toxic. Kidney beans consist of a chemical phytohaemagglutinin. The phytic acid present in most legumes may block the body’s absorption of vital minerals and nutrients. However, cooking them can reduce the level of phytic acid.

Buckwheat: Eating or juicing raw buckwheat in large amounts can cause poisonous effects, such as a sensitivity to the sun or photosensitization.

Sprouts: Lentil, bean, and seed sprouts have bacteria like Salmonella, Listeria, or E.coli that can cause food poisoning. Cooking kills these bacteria and reduces the risk of food poisoning (4).

Eggs: Some eggs contain a bacterium named Salmonella, which may cause severe illness and even death. Cooking the eggs destroys these bacteria.

Seafood: Raw seafood also contains some dangerous bacteria and parasites. It is recommended for the people who follow this diet to avoid raw seafood and shellfish. 

Dairy: Raw milk comprises Listeria, which can cause severe infections and pregnancy complications. Pasteurized milk has the same health benefits without the risks.

Summary

Raw foodism is a new diet trend with many health benefits due to the composition and nutritional food content. 

The raw food diet is unsuitable for pregnant women, younger children, and people with anemia. 

In general, cooking or heating makes your food more easily digestible and safer (5,6). 

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