There’s been a lot of media attention lately on the raw food movement. A lot of this can be attributed to celebrity enthusiasts such as Demi Moore and Woody Harrelson, both very public about their “raw foodist’ lifestyles. But is the raw food diet better for you than the typical vegetarian diet?
Why Do People Go on Raw Food Diets?
Raw foodism is based on the premise that cooking foods destroys many of their most health-giving properties. I found a good explanation on About.com’s alternative medicine site. As author Cathy Wong puts it,
Cooking is thought to denature the enzymes naturally present in food. According to raw foodists, enzymes are the life force of a food, helping us to digest food and absorb nutrients. If we over consume cooked food, our bodies are forced to work harder by producing more enzymes. Over time, a lack of enzymes from food is thought to lead to digestive problems, nutrient deficiency, accelerated aging, and weight gain.”
Is a Raw Food Diet Really Healthier Than a Regular vegetarian Diet?
We’ve all heard that we lose a good deal of vitamins by cooking vegetables. This is true, but more so when boiling or otherwise cooking in water that we won’t be consuming. Cooking also breaks down a lot of the fiber tissue in fruits and vegetables (and other foods), making them faster to digest and less healthful for blood sugar and digestion. However, by cooking them al dente, you can retain
most of the fiber found in raw foods.
What about those enzymes?
Well, you may lose some enzymes through cooking, but the jury is still out on the subject of how much is enough when discussing enzymes. Most raw foodists consume some cooked foods. In fact, in order to be considered a raw food diet, your daily diet only has to contain 70% raw foods. While there are some extremists who think all food must be raw (including meat and dairy) most raw food diets contain at least some cooked grains, legumes and dairy. ACH2PXWU57EH
If you want to read more about raw foodism, there is some excellent information online. I found the About.com site to be very helpful. The online magazine Raw Food Life also has some great information. In the end, you need to do the research for yourself and make your own decision.