The Truth About Raw Foods
You have most likely experimented with raw foods, whether it be with sushi, tartar, or simply salads or raw vegetables. But what do you really know about raw foods?
Raw food: a new trend?
In truth, the raw food diet, or rawism has been existing for a long time. It was practiced by the members of a Jewish sect more than 2000 years ago, and they were said to live up to 120 years!
As its name says, raw foodism consists in eating raw foods such as fruits, vegetables, some sprouted breads, nuts and seeds, nut milk, unpasteurized honey, cold pressed oils, sprout juice, and seaweed. Transforming these foods is not allowed, except for sprouting, fermentation, and dehydration. During their preparation, the temperature should not go over 40 °C. There are many variants to this type of diet, but most of them rule out foods from animal sources, and advocate organic foods.
Advantages of eating raw
Eating raw, preserves the nutritional value of foods, as well as their enzymes. It is said that this results in a more effective digestion, and that it reduces the workload of the organism. Some researchers say that raw foods could even prevent some diseases such as cancer, arthritis, diabetes, and heart diseases. Rich in fiber, this form of nutrition also creates a feeling of satiety, especially because the chewing time is increased. For all of these reasons, new adepts will often quickly lose weight on the short term, but long term health problems can also occur.
If it is true that cooking foods destroys part of their vitamins and minerals, it also makes some beneficial compounds available, such as lycopene during cooking of tomatoes. As for enzymes contained in foods, it is true that they are destroyed when the temperature reaches over 47,8 °C. However, these enzymes are only used to begin digestion in the stomach. When acidity levels become too high, they are destroyed anyway, and the organism takes over the process of digestion! We should also mention that research in this domain is not conclusive yet.
There are risks to eating raw!
Let’s not forget that the cooking of foods limits considerably the risks of food-borne disease by destroying pathogens. Do you still want to eat tartar?
Nutritional deficiencies are also a risk for those who avoid foods from animal sources, especially for iron, vitamin B12, vitamin D, calcium, and zinc.
For all of these reasons, young children, the elderly, pregnant women as well as people with a weakened immune system should avoid this type of nutrition.
Although raw foodism has some advantages, when performed full-time it requires a lot of planning, and becomes restrictive. And what could be better than steaming hot soup in the heart of winter? A diversified nutrition composed of raw and cooked foods every day is still the best solution to get the most out of foods, while still being simple and enjoyable! For the curious ones, you can try raw foods at the Crudessence restaurant. A must: Living foods cooking workshops.
By Valérie Barnett, level IV intern, Université de Montréal
In collaboration with Christina Timothéatos dt.p.