Eating Raw

Over the past couple of years it seems like rawfood diets have exploded into the mainstream. But, do you really have to omit cooking to maintain a healthy diet? Dr. Fuhrman discusses this in a previous post:
Are cooked foods really dead foods?
It is true that when food is baked at high temperatures—and especially when it is fried or barbecued—toxic compounds are formed and important nutrients are lost. Many vitamins are water-soluble, and a significant percent can be lost with cooking, especially overcooking. Similarly, many plant enzymes function as phytochemical nutrients in our body and can be useful to maximize health. They, too, can be destroyed by overcooking.


Enzymes are proteins that work to speed up or “catalyze” chemical reactions. Every living cell makes enzymes for its own activities. Human cells are no exception. Our glands secrete enzymes into the digestive tract to aid in the digestion of food. However, after they are ingested, the enzymes contained in plants do not function as enhancements or replacements for human digestive enzymes. These molecules exist to serve the plant’s purpose, not ours. The plant enzymes get digested by our own digestive juices along with the rest of the food and are absorbed and utilized as nutrients.

Contrary to what many raw-food web sites claim, the enzymes contained in the plants we eat do not catalyze chemical reactions that occur in humans. The plant enzymes merely are broken down into simpler molecules by our own powerful digestive juices. Even when the food is consumed raw, plant enzymes do not aid in their own digestion inside the human body. It is not true that eating raw food demands less enzyme production by your body, and dietary enzymes inactivated by cooking have an insignificant effect on your health and your body’s enzymes.
Okay, even though Dr. Fuhrman doesn’t advocate a strict raw diet, he does insist that eating lots of raw vegetables is a good idea. More from The Cold Truth About Raw Food Diets:
Benefits of raw food.
Certainly, there are benefits to consuming plenty of raw fruits and vegetables. These foods supply us with high nutrient levels and the smallest number of calories. But the question we are looking at is this—Are there advantages to eating a diet of all raw foods and excluding all cooked foods?


Clearly, the answer is a resounding “No.” In fact, eating an exclusively raw-food diet is a disadvantage. To exclude all steamed vegetables and vegetable soups from your diet narrows the nutrient diversity of your diet and has a tendency to reduce the percentage of calories from vegetables, in favor of nuts and fruit, which are lower in nutrients per calorie.

Unfortunately, sloppy science prevails in the raw-food movement. Rawfood advocates mistakenly conclude that since eating processed and cooked carbohydrates is harmful for us, all cooked foods are harmful.
If you’re still interested in raw food diets, The Philadelphia Inquirer has a pretty good Q&A with raw food advocate Cherron Perry-Thomas. It’s worth a read. Here’s a bit of the piece:
Q: Define raw foods and the distinctions between raw, vegan and vegetarian.


A: There is a lot of confusion. But there is nothing new about eating a raw-food or a plant-based diet. The important thing is for people to have fresh fruits and vegetables in their diet every day. Here are the definitions:

Raw foodists do not cook or heat food above 116 degrees and eat only a plant-based diet (fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, sprouts, sea vegetables).

Vegans do not eat or use any animal-based products. There are also vegetarians - lacto or ovo-lacto [they consume dairy, or dairy and eggs].
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