The major varieties of raw foods are fresh fruits, dried fruits, nuts and beans, vegetables, including salad vegetables, leafy green vegetables, sea vegetables, herbs and wild greens, pulses and legumes, sprouted grains and seeds, edible flowers, mushrooms, algae, spices, and stimulants such as chili, ginger and onion.
The benefits of eating raw foods are many. Raw foods make for healthy alternatives to normal foods due to the relatively low fat and sodium levels, and absence of harmful preservatives, artificial colors or flavors, refined sugar and or artificial sweeteners. Consumption of raw food helps liver functions and contributes to overcoming many health problems such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, depression, fatigue, skin problems, digestive problems, obesity, and other ailments.
Not all raw food, however, makes for good dietary choices in healthy eating. Very often, the dangers of raw food negate the benefits of eating raw foods. Raw foods such as vegetables generally have better nutritional value than cooked food for cooking destroys much of the nutrients, but the converse also holds true sometimes. For instance, cooking raw grains deactivates the inherent protease inhibitors that inhibit the digestibility of the protein in grains.
A primary consideration on how to buy raw foods is to identify the food, for some raw foods are outright dangerous.
Toxicity ranks among the primary dangers of raw food. Buckwheat greens, kidney beans, taro root, and some variants of raw cassava are toxic when raw. For instance, the fagopyrin present in buckwheat cause photosensitivity and other dermatological complaints and raw taro root contains calcium oxalate crystals that form kidney stones.
Raw eggs contain avidin that inhibit biotin and cause “egg white injury.” Cooking egg destroys the harmful nature of avidin.
Raw sweet potato, cabbage, cauliflower, turnips, rutabaga, canola oil, pine nuts, mustard, millet, soybeans, and peanuts, all contain goitrogens that influence iodine metabolism and worsen hypothyroidism.
Those buying raw foods would do well to avoid purchasing such foods raw for consumption.
Another major problem with raw food is contamination that can lead to food poisoning.
Raw foods that remain highly susceptible to bacterial contamination at multiple points in the food handling chain are eggs and egg-based foods, chicken and poultry, beef, pork, processed meats, fish, tuna, cream, and milk products. Most sprouted foods, which is a common way of consuming raw grains, also remain extremely susceptible to contaminants such as e-coli and other bacteria, as the sprouting takes place in warm and moist environments that bacterium thrives on. Raw milk contains mycobacterium bovis that may cause non-pulmonary tuberculosis and brucella bacteria that may cause fever.
Those on a raw-food diet would do well to avoid consumption of such food in their raw form. Opt for products such as pasteurized milk, apple juice, and cider, and dry-cured salami. Never consume raw eggs.
Another important consideration is to source raw foods from places with proper heating or freezing facilities as applicable. Treating raw foods with salt, acid, or drying or heating inhibits the bacteria. Heating foods above 120 degrees Fahrenheit destroys the bacteria and storing above 85 degree Fahrenheit ensures that the bacteria do not multiply.
Those buying raw foods would also do well to purchase from places where raw fruits, vegetables, and grain do not come in contact with raw fish, meat, and poultry, or cooked meat comes in contact with raw meat again. Physical contract is the best way for bacteria and contaminants to pass from meat to vegetables, fruits, and grains.
Other considerations to follow to derive maximum benefits of eating raw foods include ensuring raw fruits and vegetables have been treated for insect damage or grown organically, and that food handlers maintain proper hygiene, including washing hand after contact with raw meat, fish and poultry.
A major raw food diet danger is the propensity of certain raw foods to imbalance the diet.
A normal adult requires about 2000 calories a day. Most raw foods remain very low in calories and an exclusive or predominantly raw food diet usually results in consumption of large quantities of raw foods to ensure adequate calorie intake. This can affect the balance of the diet and depending on the nature of food consumed lead to side effects such as excessive fat or sugar consumption.
How to buy raw foods without upsetting the balance of the diet? The answer lies in understanding the dangers of excessive consumption and planning for a balanced diet accordingly.
Excessive consumption of acid fruits such as orange, pineapple, lemons, and other citrus fruits increase the acidity level in body beyond optimal limits, resulting in erosion of teeth enamel and other problems. Anything beyond two big oranges, or a grapefruit, or half a pineapple constitutes excess for a normal individual. One way to circumvent the problem is to mix up acid fruits and non-acid fruits in smoothies.
Regular consumption of dried fruits such as raisins, figs, apricots, and dates causes digestive and dental problems. Dried fruits disturb digestion, creating gas and excessive carvings for other foods. Such foods also stick to the teeth and promote the growth of bacteria, causing tooth cavities.
Excessive consumption of avocados, oils, and nuts, generally in excess of two-ounces a day, also leads to imbalance in the diet and ruins digestion. Unlike most other raw foods, nuts are high in fat.
While the consumption of raw food provides rest for the body’s digestive system and allows the liver to recover, most people find it difficult to sustain an exclusive raw food diet over a long period. Some uncooked foods, especially grains, are not easily edible or tasty when consumed raw.
Those looking for tips on how to buy raw foods would do well to frequent the organic section of supermarkets, organic farm shops, and farmer’s markets. While certain reputed online vendors constitute a good source for raw foods, a major issue is the misleading advice of many people trying to leverage the “fad” for their commercial advantage.
- Colorado State University. “Bacterial Food Borne Illness.” Retrieved from https://www.ext.colostate.edu/pubs/foodnut/09300.html on April 09, 2011.
- Powell, Doug. “High bacteria levels in bean sprouts.” Retrieved from https://barfblog.foodsafety.ksu.edu/blog/category/raw-food on April 09, 2011.
- Billings, Tom. “The The Calorie Paradox of Raw Veganism” Retrieved from https://www.beyondveg.com/billings-t/cal-par/calorie-paradox1a.shtml on April 09, 2011.
- George Meteljan Foundation. “Wouldn’t uncooked grains have a superior nutritional profile to cooked ones .” Retrieved from https://whfoods.org/genpage.php?tname=dailytip&dbid=234 on April 09, 2011.
- Karen Knowler. “New to Raw Food? Start Here.” Retrieved from https://www.therawfoodcoach.com/start_here.php on April 09, 2011.
- “How Safe are our Foods.” Retrieved from https://food_fiber.okstate.edu/howsafe1.pdf on April 09, 2011.
- Patenaue, Frederic. “4 Raw-Food Diet Mistakes That Can Ruin Your Health.” Retrieved from https://www.rawfoodhowto.com/four-raw-food-diet-mistakes.cfm on April 09, 2011.
Page 1: flickr.com/norwichnuts