Raw-gust: Is a Raw Food Diet Healthy?
August is here (how did that happen!?) and with it comes the next play on words internet sensation after Veganuary and Movember… that’s right, its Rawgust!
Eating raw seems to be the next big thing, with claims of its cleansing benefits and nutritious punch. But are you ready to ditch your oven, say no more to your microwave and hide your kettle under a tea-cosie until September?
What is a raw food diet?
A raw food diet basically does what is says on the tin- you only eat uncooked and unprocessed foods that haven’t got above 46⁰c. This is most commonly a vegan or vegetarian diet; however, raw fish is often a staple for fully raw individuals. Organic is also an important element to many raw diets, as this diet is mainly for those seeking the most ‘natural’ diet they can.
Is going raw healthy?
There are many claims for the benefits of a raw diet. These include providing a natural energy boost, benefiting your skin health, strengthening your immune system, improving fertility and aiding heart health. A raw diet is a great way of getting nutrients and vitamins from your diet as they have not been damaged or depleted by heat, which occurs above 48⁰c. For example, one study showed that tomatoes lost 10% of their vitamin C content after 2 minutes of cooking.
Will I lose weight?
A raw diet has been shown to be very effective in weight-loss due to the low-calorie nature of raw foods compared to those cooked in high energy fats and oils.
Raw food is also naturally low in saturated fats due to the unprocessed nature of the diet. However, good fats are important to incorporate into a raw diet. Cashews and avocados, for example, are a must as these contain mono-unsaturated fats which have been shown to be beneficial for heart health. Similarly, coconut is rich in saturated fats that have been shown to have health benefits which contribute to healthy bodily function.
How do I get enough protein going raw?
Many studies have shown that having a plant-based, varied diet can offer all the protein that is needed for an individual. Especially good sources of these are leafy green veg, nuts, seeds and grains. Raw flapjacks are your friend!
Is raw good for the environment?
Well, as most raw diets are vegan and vegetarian, this no meat diet is already massively reducing your environmental impact! Meat production is extremely water intensive, putting huge pressures on the water catchment, adding to the global issues of water scarcity. Adopting a vegan, vegetarian or raw diet is also a brilliant way to shorten the food chain of your food, meaning that less land is needed for food production. This means more people can be fed and more forest and wild land can be saved- yay!
So, is raw the answer?
Well, maybe for some foods. But in carrots and tomatoes the cooking process makes it easier for our bodies to absorb anti-oxidants, Vitamin A and Beta-carotene. To know more about essential vitamins, have a look at our blog on micro-nutrients.
In-house Nutritionist, Penny, says…
Eating raw foods is important in your diet to pack yourself with vitamins, as well as for eating your water (find some tips about this here).
Eating raw foods is great in the summer as it offers a cleansing diet that helps to keep your body cool. Eating salads and fresh fruit and veg is a great way of getting those vitamins and minerals. There is a lot of energy in raw foods, so they are great at fulling your body. However, a raw diet can be challenging to the body as it is hard work for your body to break the food down. Cooking foods starts to break them down, which is why some cooked foods are easier to digest. So, raw food is great if you’re fit and healthy, but if you’re feeling ill or weak, then stick to what your body is telling you and have something that is easy to digest such as a warm soup.
A completely raw diet may suit some, but for the rest of us, just adding some raw salads and veg to a meal is a great idea. Try adding some fresh spinach leaves to the side of your curry, or sprinkling cress on your soup- adds a fresh taste and a health kick!