These are just a few of the reported outcomes of a raw food diet. But do you need to quit cooking all your food to reap these benefits? Healthy Girlfriend explores the basics and dishes out a little practical (uncooked) advice.
Homemade coconut milk takes only a few minutes to make. Raw almonds and cashews soaking for taco salad.
Simply put, a raw food diet is one that is rich in uncooked fruits and vegetables. Many long term raw foodists have found incredible health well into their senior years eating 80% raw food (by calories.) Other raw foodists claim that 90 to 100% raw is best. Healthy Girlfriend maintains that we should eat at least 50% our food uncooked, however, perfection is not what we aim for or suggest for you, especially if you're new to the superior health arena. Honestly, trying to be 100% raw may be too complicated for your busy life, so we'll get into specifics of how you can aim for a lot more fresh, healthy uncooked food in your healthy diet.
Raw food, by definition, is food that is not heated above 118 degrees F. Heating beyond this temperature destroys the natural enzymes in plants as well as most (but not all) of the vital nutrients. These components that naturally occur in plants are the key to their amazing health properties. We want to note that while only a minority of rawtarians include animal products in their raw diet, the majority do not. For our purposes here, we mean raw to include fruits, veggies, sea vegetables, nuts, and seeds.
Also, a raw food diet is not quite the same thing as a detox diet, although both include fresh, uncooked plant foods. If you are undertaking a temporary cleanse, you would not be eating the nuts, seeds, and oils commonly used in an uncooked food diet since they would slow down the cleansing effect of a detox.
Uncooked plants not only provide necessary vitamins and minerals, but they also contain an array of phytochemicals that are protective and healing to humans.This is why Girlfriend recommends you strive for a diet that derives 50% of your daily calories as uncooked fruits, veggies, nuts and seeds. If that seems daunting, consider it this way; load up on your fill of green smoothies and large salads with (raw dressing) for breakfast and lunch, and munch on some raw nuts and seeds for snacks. Given that nuts and seeds are calorie dense, it's not hard to eat 50% raw when these are included in your daily fare. For beginners, go ahead and have a dinner of warm, comforting steamed veggies with a small amount of organic pastured butter (rich in vitamin K2,) or coconut oil. Or a nicely-spiced vegetable stir-fry over basmati rice. Since cooked food is calorie dense, you'll want to keep portions reasonably small for both weight loss and to keep it at 50% of your daily calories. This way of including raw food in your diet is easy once it becomes habit.
For extra motivation, consider this: Allium vegetables such as onion, chives and leeks, contain substances called ajoenes, allicin, allelic sulfides and vinyl sulfides that are antibacterial, anticancer, anti fungal, antiviral and protect your heart. Not bad for the lowly onion! Sprinkle some green onions on your salad to reap these benefits and try not to worry about your co-workers and clients! Seriously, if you want to be considerate, nibbling on fresh parsley after your salad will not only neutralize your breath, but it also contains protective components against heart disease, diabetes, osteoporosis and some cancers.
Greens, which can be juiced, blended in smoothies, or eaten in salads, have the highest nutrient content of all the commonly-consumed plants. Not only are they full of vitamins and minerals, they are also rich in antioxidants and other protective phytochemicals. Surprisingly, leafy greens happen to contain about 10% protein, which is the RDA (recommended daily allowance) of this macronutrient.
Colorful veggies such as sweet peppers and carrots contain beta-carotene, the powerhouse nutrient which protects cells and tissues from free radical damage, boosts immunity, and defends against stroke, cardiovascular disease, and cancer. Broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, kale, brussels sprouts and other cruciferous veggies contain sulfur and other components that are detoxifying and highly protective against cancer.
Can you get all your required nutrients in a raw food diet? A bit of internet research will give you opinions from every nutritional expert in the world, and no one agrees on the final answer. To cover the nutrient bases, Healthy Girlfriend personally likes to supplement with super foods like spirulina, barley grass, maca, flax seed and blue-green algae plus some cooked vegetables, but consuming a ton of raw plant foods is always the priority. Of course, that's along with a good detox 3 or 4 times a year. Don't forget to add high-quality B12 and D3 vitamins as an insurance policy, since many vegans are deficient in those.
Take a look at Karyn Calebrese, Mimi Kirk, Vesanto Melina, Gabriel Cousens, Annette Larkins, Fred Bisci or any one of the raw foodists over 60. They are vibrant, beautiful, and healthy, free from the usual diseases that plague an aging person. There are a great number of other beautiful, healthy raw food experts such as model Carol Alt (photo above,) Kristina Carrillo-Bucaram, Marcus Rothkranz, and Penni Shelton. These folks not only embrace a raw food diet and lifestyle, but are the embodiment of compassion and enthusiasm. Healthy Girlfriend hopes to motivate you to go out on a limb and give raw food a try!
We've said this before, but let's rephrase it: Keep things as simple as possible in order to succeed with a healthier diet. Green smoothies, fresh juices when you have time, large salads with homemade dressings, nuts and seeds for snacking can be the bulk of your diet in daylight hours. Save the cooked dinner for evenings when you want something warm and comforting, and especially during the colder months. Once you get that habit going, you may want to explore some gourmet raw food dinner recipes for weekends or warm, summer evenings.
Raw Pesto Pizza