What is Raw?
Raw food diets can be a great way to not only lose weight, but also lead a much healthier, natural lifestyle in general. Most raw food diets are plant-based, with at least 75% of the diet composed of fresh organic plants. Food examples include living and raw fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, grains, and seaweeds. Some people may still also eat cooked grains and legumes, fresh fish and poultry. But, for the strict raw food diet, nothing is heated over 116 degrees Fahrenheit. Some raw food dieters can be classified as vegans as well, but not all are.
Benefits of Raw
Here are just some of the awesome results you can experience on a healthy raw vegan diet: improved digestion, normalized weight, avoidance of hunger or deprivation, reduced risk of degenerative disease, increased energy, better sleep, great hair, smooth, soft skin, healthy teeth and gums, mental clarity, feeling lighter, greater overall well-being and so much more!
Raw Food is More Nutritious
Cooking food, whether you steam or fry it, removes much of the water from the food. This water is necessary for both hydration of the body and assimilation of many important nutrients by the body.
Raw food contains all its original phytonutrients. They are important for a strong immune system and for preventing cancers and other chronic diseases. Common examples include antioxidants (anti-aging) and cancer protective nutrients, chlorophyll, carotenoids, chlorophyll, and lycopene. Phytonutrients are sensitive to heat… they are destroyed or damaged when heated above 130 degrees.
Vitamins are either water or fat soluble and both are affected when exposed to heat. Cooking methods that use water may cause these vitamins to seep out of the vegetables.
Raw food keeps the original enzymes intact. They help start the digestive process… breaking down raw foods, increase vitality and slow the aging process. They are the most heat-sensitive of all nutrients, destroyed at temperatures above 118 degrees. The more enzymes present in your food, the more energy is left over for you to feel healthy and vital.
The proteins in raw food are the perfect building blocks. When proteins are heated, they are damaged, causing amino acids to congeal. They can cause inflammation and other problems.
Fiber in raw foods has many other beneficial properties in addition to “bulking up” food and decreasing calorie density: blood sugar regulation, lowers cholesterol, keeps everything moving. Fresh raw and living foods also contain an abundance of fiber to “mop up” or bind to any excess cholesterol, thus keeping cholesterol levels appropriately low.
Raw Food has the Right pH Balance
The human body’s cells function better when alkaline. Being acidic weakens the immune system. Processed food, cooked food, meat, dairy, sugar, pollution, and stress are acid-forming. Raw fruits and vegetables are highly alkalizing. Grains are acid-forming, except for millet, quinoa, amaranth, and buckwheat. Almonds are the least acidic nut. Raw foods are high in alkaline minerals – good for bone health!
Protein Content in Raw Foods
Only 10% of our calories need to be from protein. Our society has a cultural bias toward high-protein foods, i.e., meats, dairy, etc. Vegetables and fruits contain about 15% protein. The human body is able to absorb more protein from raw foods. Some of the rich protein sources in the raw diet are: nuts, seeds, nut/seed butters, dark leafy greens, sprouts, and algae.
Fat Content in Raw Foods
Higher fat raw plant foods, such as coconuts, avocadoes and nuts and seeds, contain relatively healthy, unsaturated fats such as Omega 3′s. These fats require less bile to emulsify them, so less cholesterol needs to be produced. Contrary to popular belief, though these foods are high in fat, the fats they contain are healthier than those found in animal products, and in some cases are essential to our health.
Raw Food is Not Altered
Cooking food completely changes the chemical makeup of the food. For example, heating proteins fuses the basic amino acid chains together in a process called denaturing. The human body cannot dissolve these unnatural bonds and so the food becomes useless to the body, not to mention toxic. Also, cooking carbohydrates results in carmelization of the sugars and heated fats quickly become rancid. Substance formation that can be toxic, i.e., acrylamide, heterocyclic amines, and nitrosamines.
Raw Food Contains Fewer Calories per Bite, Yet Very Satisfying
A pound of bananas contains only 400 calories with 3% fat. Compare that to the same amount of broiled steak and you get a whopping 1251 calories, 64% of which is fat! And that’s with the excess fat trimmed off. Calorie Dense foods have a high water and fiber content and a low fat content. These foods “fill you up” so you feel full and satisfied without too many calories that lead to weight gain. Various studies have shown that when people eat foods low in calorie density they can eat as much as they want and still achieve their optimal body weight. A stomach full of raw salad made of vegetables and sprouts would contain about 200 calories. That is not enough for most people, so adding some avocado, nuts and seeds, or dehydrated foods increases the calorie density to a more appropriate level.
Because raw foods retain their water and fiber, they are higher in volume. Therefore, you will need to eat less volume to be satisfied, and you can eat a very large amount of food and you will still lose weight! Okay, so raw foods are inarguably better for us.