A raw food diet involves eating mainly unprocessed, uncooked, largely plant-based, and preferably organic foods. The resurgence of eating a raw food diet may make it appear to be new but it’s a concept that has been around for centuries. Here are the different types of raw food diets as well as the benefits and risks to keep in mind if you’re considering them.
Types of raw food diet
Raw vegan: excludes all animal products focusing mainly on plant-based foods.
Raw vegetarian: includes plant-based foods plus raw eggs and unprocessed dairy products.
Raw omnivorous: includes plant-based foods, raw animal products, and raw or dried meat.
Fruitarianism: a subtype of raw veganism focused on consuming mostly fruit, with some raw vegetables and nuts.
Raw Till 4: a subtype that involves eating a raw vegan diet until 4 pm, after which cooked foods are consumed.
Foods to eat
Some of the foods preferred by raw food diet enthusiasts include
- Raw fruits and raw vegetables
- Dried fruits and vegetables
- Freshly made fruit and vegetable juices
- Soaked and sprouted beans and other grains and legumes
- Raw nuts and seeds
- Raw nut butter such as peanut butter
- Nut milk such as almond milk
- Coconut milk
- Cold-pressed olive oil or coconut oil
- Nutritional yeast
- Fermented foods such as sauerkraut
- Purified water but not tap water
- Other organic, natural or unprocessed foods
The diet may also contain
- Raw eggs
- Raw fish, such as sushi
- Raw and dried meats
- Non-pasteurized and non-homogenized milk and dairy products
Foods to avoid include
- All cooked or processed foods
- Refined oils
- Table salt
- Refined sugars and flour
- Coffee, tea, and alcohol
Benefits of a raw food diet
High nutrient intake: A raw food diet typically involves consuming a large amount of fresh fruits and vegetables, which are high in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants as well as a great source of fibre.
Healthier diet: Consuming fewer processed foods including salt, added sugars and unsaturated fats is overall healthier. Processed foods lead to inflammation and cardiovascular disease.
Weight loss: This diet is lower in calories and fat, and the fibre in raw foods can help promote feelings of fullness, making it easier to maintain a healthy weight.
Improved energy levels: The high nutrient content of raw foods can provide an energy boost and help combat fatigue.
Improved digestion: A high-fibre diet helps improve digestion and prevent constipation.
Improved skin health: The high vitamin and antioxidant content can improve skin health and reduce the signs of ageing.
Increased hydration: Fruits and vegetables have a high water content, which can help keep the body hydrated.
Risks of raw food diet
Nutritional deficiencies: People on a raw food diet are likely to miss out on a variety of nutrients including vitamins D and B-12, iron, calcium and omega-3 fatty acids. This can be remedied by speaking to a nutritionist and considering supplements. The only problem is followers of raw food diets often discourage the use of supplements.
Food safety: Extra care must be taken when eating uncooked foods. There’s a risk of food poisoning as well as exposure to harmful bacteria.
Low-calorie intake: Raw fruits and vegetables mean a lower caloric intake which can lead to weight loss as well as fatigue, weakness, and malnutrition.
Irregular menstrual cycle: Women on a raw food diet for over three years experienced irregularities in their menstrual cycle.
It’s worth noting that many dietitians agree that an increased intake of fruits and vegetables and a reduction in processed food would benefit most people.
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