Food is basic to our survival. It is not just what you eat, but also how you eat. Human civilization and the invention of fire taught mankind to cook their food. But raw food diet is once again making its way back into the mainstream.
You may have heard of guys like the Liver King doing their rounds promoting the “ancestral diet”.
Raw food adds versatility to your diet plan. If you are always in a rush or you don’t know much about the art of cuisine, you should definitely try some raw food recipes. But more importantly, it can be great for your health. As for tastebuds, that’s for you to decide.
Before you go about switching to a raw food diet, it’s worth knowing a few things about it. Let’s get started.
What Is Raw Food?
Let’s get the basics right. Raw food does not necessarily mean that you munch on totally uncooked food. Of course, there are fruits, vegetables, and seeds that you can eat right away, but there is some degree of cooking involved.
The rule of thumb is that the food should not be heated above 115°F. It is important to note that the food should be 100 percent organic, unpasteurized, and unrefined. You can have raw food alongside other cooked food at the same time, but as long as 70 percent of what you have on your plate is raw, you are on a raw food diet.
You can have greater flexibility in preparing your personal raw food diet plan. There are various techniques like juicing, souping, dehydrating, blending, sprouting, and soaking that don’t require any heating.
Although fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds constitute a significant part of any raw food list, you will occasionally find raw foodists who consume raw fish and meat. Some even go for the unpasteurized dairy. Based on what you eat, there are three broad categories of a raw food diet.
- Raw Vegan Diet: It is entirely plant-based and excludes all animal-based products like meat, egg, and dairy.
- Raw Vegetarian Diet: In addition to plant-based foods, it includes animal-based products like raw eggs and unprocessed or unpasteurized dairy items.
- Raw Omnivorous Diet: It includes everything that can be eaten raw, from plant-based foods to animal-based products like raw fish and meat.
Why Eat Raw Food?
Eating food in its raw, natural, and whole state comes with numerous health benefits. The proponents of raw food believe that our bodies react more positively to uncooked and unprocessed food.
Raw foods are high in essential nutrients like vitamins, minerals, protein, and healthy fats. Heat destroys most of the essential nutrients in the food. Therefore, consuming the fruits and vegetables in raw and whole form provides you with a better supply of those nutrients which are known to boost your health.
Raw and unprocessed foods are low in calorie content. It boosts your metabolism and promotes better digestion. The soluble fiber found in plant-based raw foods will make you satiated for a longer time. It will naturally help you manage your weight.
Promotes Heart Health
Raw food diet is linked to a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease. Including organic fruits, vegetables, and whole grains in your raw food lists helps to lower bad cholesterol levels. Additionally, it also reduces the risks of diabetes, kidney failure, stroke, and high blood pressure.
What’s In Our Raw Food List?
Now that you know about raw food and its potential health benefits, let’s check out some of the best raw foods that you can incorporate right away into your everyday diet plan.
Coconuts are best consumed raw instead of drying, processing, or sweetening.
Although you can drink coconut water any time of the day, it’s more beneficial when taken on an empty stomach to kick start your metabolism. It is high in minerals like sodium, potassium, and magnesium to keep you hydrated and energized throughout the day. If you are an athlete, raw coconut should be on the top of your raw food list.
Raw honey is extracted directly from the honeycomb, thus, it does not go through any processing. This ensures that the essential minerals, vitamins, enzymes, nutrients, amino acids, and antioxidant compounds remain in their whole form. These components are destroyed when the honey goes through any heavy processing like heating and pasteurization.
3. Fermented Vegetables
Fermented vegetables are one of the most underrated raw foods. The prebiotics and enzymes present formed during the fermentation process predigest the sugar and starch into acids. As a result, your body can digest those foods more easily while absorbing the essential nutrients. You can ferment a range of vegetables including but not limited to cucumber, radish, cabbage, celery, and carrots.
On a side note, pickled vegetables are not the same as fermented ones, as the former uses vinegar while the latter use prebiotics. Look for the labels when buying from the store.
Sprouts are a nutritional powerhouse. They are germinated vegetable seeds that are power-packed with nutrients, vitamins, and enzymes. The ratio of these nutritional compounds depends on the type of plant seeds you germinate.
Besides vegetables, you can also use beans, peas, grains, and nuts for sprouting. They are low in calories and help to improve digestion and control blood sugar levels.
If you want to try something new, you can make a smoothie out of the sprouts and flavor it according to your preferences.
Don’t judge garlic from the smell it leaves in your mouth afterward. It is a food that is also considered medicine at the same time. The allicin compound present in the freshly chopped garlic has several medicinal properties (antibacterial, antifungal, and antiviral).
Similarly, the hydrogen sulfide gas lowers your cholesterol levels and protects your heart from cardiovascular disease. These compounds are only present in fresh and raw garlic. Dried or cooked ones can’t be treated the same anymore due to the way they are handled.
Besides these raw foods, there are several others that you can include in your own personalized raw food lists. However, relying entirely on a raw food diet may not be a good idea. Some foods and vegetables are safer when cooked. The bottom line is to maintain a healthy balance between raw and cooked food in your diet. Hope this article serves you well and you are now able to make an informed decision on whether you want to introduce raw food into your regular diet.
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