How to Eat Raw Foods

A bowl of raw nuts.
A bowl of raw nuts. (Image: Ruth Jenkinson/Dorling Kindersley RF/Getty Images)

Whether for weight loss or health, a raw food diet is a type of vegetarian diet that's filled with nutrient-packed foods. The diet encourages you to eat food in its most natural state, uncooked and raw, so that you get all the vitamins, minerals and enzymes your body needs for optimal health. Always talk to your doctor before making any changes to your diet.

Rules of Raw

The raw food diet is a plant-based diet that includes foods that have not been processed in any way, which not only includes cooking but also irradiation, genetic engineering or treatment with pesticides or herbicides. You can heat foods, but not above 115 degrees Fahrenheit. Food choices must be organic and drinking water purified, says Vanderbilt University. Cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil and raw coconut butter and oil are also allowed.

You are not allowed to eat any processed foods, refined flour, sugar, salt or caffeine on the raw diet.

Food Choices

On a plant-based diet, most of your food choices include fruits, vegetables, sprouts, seeds and nuts. Grains and legumes consumed raw are also allowed on the diet plan. Some raw foodists also include raw milk and cheese as well as raw fish and meat in their diet plan. However, consuming raw animal products increases your risk of foodborne illness.

"Cooking" Raw Foods

Raw foodists use a number of different tools to help prepare food, including juicers, blenders, a food processor and dehydrator. For example, you can make sweet potato "chips" using a food dehydrator, or use a food processor to make raw nut butter. Dry grains and beans contain substances that are difficult to digest. On a raw food diet, you can soak them and allow them to sprout while still conforming to the diet parameters.

Pros and Cons

Filling your diet with mostly fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds can help up your intake of essential nutrients that keep you healthy. And, if you're trying to lose weight, a raw food diet may help. U.S. News reports that raw foodists eat fewer calories and weigh less than other dieters.

However, the raw food diet is a strict diet with a lot of rules that some may have a difficult time following long term. You may risk nutritional deficiencies, specifically vitamin B-12, if you avoid all animal products. The raw food diet is not recommended for infants and children.

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