Raw Food Diet: Benefits and Risks

Updated on July 28, 2017

Why Eat a Raw Food Diet?

In the short term, a strictly raw diet can help clean the body and deliver many health rewards. Raw food diet devotees mention experiencing more physical energy. The healthy fats and dietary fiber found in raw foods are not present in most processed foods.

However, there are pros and cons. In this article I'll discuss both the benefits and the risks of eating a raw diet. Later I will share tips to help you begin a raw food plan safely for the maximum benefit.

Benefits of Eating a Raw Food Diet

  • A raw nutritional approach is a great way to lose unhealthy body weight and fat.
  • Replacing processed food with raw food can lead to a lower risk of heart disease and lower cholesterol levels.
  • It helps detox and cleanses the body.
  • You can eat as much as you like, since everything you are eating is healthy.
  • Healthier skin and hair and increased health and strength are just a few of the many rewards.
  • A diet rich in raw foods leads to less inflammation throughout the body.
  • Our bodies absorb more of the vitamins, minerals, and nutrients in food.
  • A raw food diet can lead to more physical energy and a clearer thought process.
  • It fits easily into a vegan or vegetarian's lifestyle.
  • Nearly all raw foods are naturally gluten-free.

Risks of Eating a Raw Food Diet

  • Eating lots of raw food for an extended period of time often causes a deficiency in vitamins D and B12, iron, calcium, and omega-3 fatty acids. It's important to use supplements. (It's also true that this vitamin deficiency can occur when we eat lots of processed foods.)
  • Foods like tomatoes and carrots release more key nutrients when they are cooked.
  • It's important to monitor the daily calorie intake on this diet, because it's naturally low-calorie.
  • To be considered a strict "rawist" you must consume 75% or more of your daily calories from uncooked foods.
  • Food cannot be heated above 116°F.
  • It's important to buy organic produce whenever it's possible, in order to keep harmful fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides out of your body. This can be pretty pricey.

How to Make a Transition from Cooked to Raw Food: A Checklist

  1. Begin slowly, replacing individual processed foods with raw alternatives.
  2. Build up to one “raw food only” meal each day. Progress to two or three meals when you feel comfortable.
  3. Empty your pantry, refrigerator, and freezer of non-raw foods.
  4. Don't knock yourself if you cheat. Just get back in the game.
  5. Shop, prepare, and plan at the beginning of each week for the rest of the week.
  6. Keep a journal, recording everything that you put into your body.

What You'll Need

  • 3 piece knife set
  • Knife sharpener
  • Juicer
  • Large cutting board
  • Blender
  • Kitchen scale
  • Food processer
  • Canning kit and vacuum sealing system
  • Mandoline
  • Food dehydrator

Tips to Making a Raw Food Diet Delicious

  • Get a Juicer Not everyone loves the taste of fruit and vegetables. A juicer takes all of the beneficial nutrients vitamins enzymes and minerals out of fruits and vegetables and delivers them in a healthy drink.
  • Experiment, experiment, and experiment! There are tons of great raw food recipes online available for free. It might take time and patience, but eventually you will find your favorite raw food meals that are as delicious as they are nutritious.
  • Put Raw Foods Around You Place your raw foods in some accessible places so it is easy to eat healthy foods and avoid unhealthy ones.
  • Don't beat yourself up if you cheat! When fitting this diet into a life, you don't have to quit enjoying time with friends and family members. Cheating is going to happen. It's better to simply return to a raw food approach than to give up.
  • Look for a local raw food support group Try to find some raw food support group or start your own. There are plenty of physical and virtual group opportunities where you can locate and contact other raw food practitioners.
  • Don't leave the house hungry. Eat before you leave home and drink plenty of water to limit the amount of non-raw foods you consume.
  • Start a journal You may be eating more non-raw foods and beverages than you think, so keep a journal. This is a good way to help yourself to progress appropriately. You’ll begin to notice positive changes to your health when you increase your intake of fresh vegetables.
  • Add a source of raw fat. If you are a protein-type or want to consume more protein, then pick vegetables that contain protein. These include celery, spinach, asparagus, string beans, and cauliflower with the base. It’s important to add a source of raw fat. Such as raw butter or cream, coconut butter, raw eggs, ground flax seeds, or flax seeds oil in order to make protein metabolism compatible with vegetables.
  • Consult a doctor Make sure you consult your doctor before starting a raw food diet, as you should with any drastic change in your nutritional approach.

Following these tips, tricks, and strategies and your movement from cooked to raw food will be painless and delicious. By all means, eating any vegetables is much better than eating no vegetables!

Recommended Vegetables for Raw Food Diet

  • Asparagus

  • Beet greens

  • Bok Choy

  • Broccoli

  • Brussels Sprouts

  • Cauliflower

  • Celery

  • Cucumbers

  • Tomatoes

  • Avocado (actually a fruit)

  • Chicory

  • Chinese Cabbage

  • Chives

  • Collard Greens

  • Dandelion Greens

  • Endive

  • Escarole

  • Fennel

  • Green and Red Cabbage

  • Kale

  • Kohlrabi

  • Lettuce (romaine, red leaf, green leaf)

  • Mustard Greens

  • Onions

  • Parsley

  • Peppers: red, green, yellow and hot

  • Turnips

  • Spinach

  • Zucchini

Note: Don’t eat raw beans. Undercooked beans may contain some toxins.

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    © 2017 IrinaV

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