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Raw food diets: Healthy or not?

Posted May 02 2010 5:09pm

raw food diet

Have you heard of the raw food diets? Raw food diets are essentially plant-based diets that are focusing on preventing chronic diseases by the high content of nutritive substances.  Those diets are based on the principle that cooking foods change their structure, destroying many vitamins and enzymes that are beneficial to the body.  People following those diets also see it as a more natural lifestyle. However, since raw diets, especially a raw vegan diets, are based mostly on heavy fruit and vegetables, nuts and seeds, many health practitioners suspect that one could end up with severe nutritional imbalance.  Let’s take a look on what recent research says about it.

Health benefits associated with vegan raw food diets

  • Reduced risk of cardiovascular diseases
  • Lower risk of cholesterol
  • Help people with fibromyalgia
  • Lower risk of obesity
  • Help stop smoking
  • Promote weight loss
  • Help boosting metabolism
  • Prevent high blood pressure
  • Decreased risk of cancer
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Alleviate rheumatoid arthritis symptoms

Health risks associated with vegan raw foods diets

  • Higher risk of nutritional deficiencies (vitamin B12, vitamin D, minerals and proteins)
  • Higher risk of being underweight
  • Higher risk of amenorrhea in women
  • Higher risk of low bone mass
  • Higher risk of dental erosion

People who follow a mostly raw food diet should monitor their vitamin B12 levels carefully or take a supplement.  Adding nutritional yeast into the diet can increase Vitamin B12 intake. However, the B12 concentration in nutritional yeast can vary a lot, so it still important to have your B12 levels checked regularly.  For vitamin D, again supplements can be taken, or mushrooms that have been exposed to direct sunlight can help prevent deficiencies.  People who follow a raw vegan diet should also make sure that they get a sufficient amount of calories.

There’s no need to be 100% raw to benefit from raw foods. Simply start by adding at least 1 cup of raw foods at each meal. You can start your day with fresh fruits or a delicious smoothie.  Add a big salad at lunch and at dinnertime. Choose raw snacks and desserts to complement your meals.  Eating raw foods doesn’t not necessarily mean to eat gooey green weird stuff. Raw food can be easy and delicious. Think of gazpacho, guacamole and salsa. Just let your creativity shine!

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