A raw food movement is sweeping across the United States,
advocating a diet of anywhere from 70 percent to 100 percent
Raw foodists claim that switching to a predominantly raw
food diet will give you more energy, slow down aging, improve
your skin, boost your mood, and fight a host of chronic diseases
including chronic fatigue syndrome, Crohn's disease and even
Raw foodists say that eating raw foods gives them more
energy while boosting mood, slowing aging and fighting
A true raw food diet consists of only raw foods, traditionally
vegan ones like vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds. However,
some raw foodists also eat raw dairy products, raw eggs and
even raw meat.
"When you cook something, you destroy the enzymes,"
said Karyn Calabrese, a well-known raw foodist in the Chicago-area
in an NBC5 article. "You need enzymes for every metabolic
purpose in your body. When you lose enzymes, that's when you
Enzymes begin to be destroyed at temperatures above 110-115
degrees, so raw foodists are allowed to use a dehydrator,
which alters food slightly by blowing hot air on it.
Raw foods, advocates say, are also higher in vitamins and
nutrients, which are also destroyed by cooking.
As evidence of raw foods' growing popularity, all-raw restaurants
are popping up across the country, drawing raw foodists and
locals alike. Far from the bland, cold and hard meals you
might expect from raw foods, diners describe raw food offerings
as "vibrant," "flavorful," and "refreshing."
"I'm 58 years old. I don't know what illness is. I have
more energy then I know what to do with. I truly believe it
is the life style I lead," said Calabrese, who owns a
raw food restaurant in Chicago.
Is Raw Food Really Better Than Cooked Food?
As adamant as raw foodists are about the benefits of eating
raw, proponents of old-fashioned cooked foods are just as
in 5: Raw Gourmet Meals in Five Minutes is the perfect
cooking companion for anyone who wants to explore the
raw food movement, or simply get more fresh, healthy
and great-tasting foods into their diet -- but doesn't
have a lot of time to do it.
"The claim that somehow raw foods give you better energy,
are more healthful, improve your immune system and all of
that is simply not substantiated," said Dennis Miller,
a professor of food and nutrition at Cornell University, in
a USA Today article. "And moreover, it's not biologically
He points out that certain foods, like beans, actually become
more nutritious after cooking. Cooked tomatoes are also known
to contain particularly healthy compounds like lycopene --
more so than raw tomatoes -- that help fight prostate cancer.
There's also the question of digestion. According to Donna
Gates, author of The Body Ecology Diet, "Many people's
digestive systems are simply too weak to digest raw vegetables
in spite of all their natural enzymes."
She recommends "cooking your vegetables by baking, simmering,
sautéing or lightly steaming them to make them more
digestible" while simultaneously eating more fermented,
or cultured, foods. The good bacteria in fermented foods,
Gates says, will help you to create a healthy inner ecosystem
and digest foods more efficiently.
Some say that boiling, stir-frying, steaming, baking
or fermenting vegetables actually makes them easier
to digest, and their nutrients more easily absorbed
by your body.
Meanwhile, researchers at Rutgers University and Taiwan found
that iron is more easily absorbed by the body from 37 of 48
vegetables they tested when they're boiled, stir-fried, steamed
"We've been promoting a more vegetarian type of diet
for decades, and I still want people to move in that direction,"
Dr. Robert Kushner, medical director of Northwestern Memorial
Hospital's Wellness Institute in USA Today. "But to put
up artificial barriers and silly rules that say you can't
cook fruits and vegetables is pushing the envelope a little
too far ... You can become deficient in a variety of nutrients,
like vitamin B-12, calcium, iron and protein. And you can
The general consensus among conventional nutritionists continues
to be that eating lots of fruits and vegetables is always
nutritious ... but it's not necessary to restrict yourself
to only raw foods to be healthy.
As for the general public, very few have crossed the line
to 100 percent raw ... but the interest, or at least the
curiosity, of many has been peaked.
If you would like to try out some delicious raw food recipes
for yourself, Alive
in 5: Raw Gourmet Meals in Five Minutes, is highly recommended.
Even those who are new to the raw food movement will enjoy
the simple recipes (most can be prepared in five minutes!)
for lasagna, spaghetti marinara, stuffed mushrooms, broccoli
in cheese sauce, apple pie and more. They're healthy and delicious,
whether you're a raw foodist or not!
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