Most of our lives are consumed by the art of consumption. From creating simple and quick meals in the blender to whipping up delicacies in the kitchen, finding the right balance of eating the healthiest foods in the perfect amount of time is all consuming. Yet, there’s a new trend getting the attention that may help on all fronts of the challenge: eating raw foods.

As simple as the statement sounds, the application is not quite as simple. Knowing which vegetables are best eaten raw and which are actually enhanced via the heat from cooking is just one part of the raw diet puzzle. Also, it’s not simply eating raw food, but fresh raw foods. The fresher the better! While there is a lot to learn about going raw, there are also a lot of great benefits to reap from the work.

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With that said, before changing any aspect of your lifestyle or diet make sure to contact and speak with your healthcare provider!

The Raw Food Persuasion

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The term “raw food” — oftentimes bringing up fearful images of dangerous, bacterial laced products — is simply a fancy way of saying fresh, unprocessed, and natural foods. This excludes foods that have “been pasteurized, homogenized, or produced with the use of synthetic pesticides, chemical fertilizers, industrial solvents or chemical food additives,” while including nutrient-packed, digestible products.

Doesn’t sound so bad, right?

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Raw dieting is not a recent invention. In fact, the idea of eating raw foods has been around since the 1800’s. Many people switch to incorporating more raw foods in their diets due to the fact that untampered with products oftentimes have a higher nutrient content and lack dangerous additives that are included during industrial processing.

While it may not seem like it, going raw doesn’t mean everything you eat is raw. It simply refers to the act of incorporating at least a few raw foods into your daily regimen. And, it’s actually pretty easy! There’s a slew of different types of raw foods out there including uncooked vegetables, fruits, and herbs, as well as fermented and sprouted products, and nuts and seeds.

Benefits of Eating Raw Foods

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Over time, humans evolved to cook their food, yet there are a few downsides to cooking everything we consume. Cooking oftentimes eliminates healthy enzymes, minerals, and vitamins, removing essential nutrition, which can lead to a clogged colon resulting in more serious conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. While many foods should be cooked in order to be safe, there are a host of raw food options that, when eaten uncooked, give back more health benefits.

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Higher Vitamin Content in Your Food

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While also being low in carbohydrates (decreasing sugar intake), sodium, and preservatives, raw foods are also high in unadulterated vitamins and minerals. Through the act of using heat to cook your veggies, you are also removing many of the nutrients from their natural makeup. This is because cooking destabilizes essential enzymes in vegetables, which in turn destroys “certain antioxidants and vitamins.”

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Reduced Inflammation

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Inflammation is one of the leading causes of many illnesses and conditions. By incorporating raw foods into your diet, you may also be helping to reduce inflammation. This is due to the fact that raw food products “help alkalize the body, reduce acidity, and have less of a chance of fermenting in the gut and causing inflammation” and/or autoimmune reactions.

Increased Antioxidant Consumption

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Many antioxidant-rich foods also happen to have phytonutrients. These substances also referred to as phytochemicals, are chemicals produced by plants that also benefit humans in various ways. These phytonutrients are found in colorful fruits and vegetables, as well as some legumes, nuts, whole grains, and spices. Yet, the beneficial chemical makeup of phytonutrients is sensitive to high temperatures, also referred to as the heat labile point, in which enzymes are destroyed and health benefits are lost. By eating raw foods, the body is able to easily digest a greater number of antioxidants, which help to prevent cell damage.

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Healthier Digestion

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Raw foods travel quickly through the digestive tract. The quicker your food travels through you, the lower the risk of fermentation. While pre-fermented or sprouted foods are great for your digestive tract, if foods ferment in your digestive tract it can lead to inflammation, gas, and discomfort. In serious cases, as more toxic waste accumulates in the digestive tract, it can lead to leaky gut syndrome.

Incorporating Raw Foods

Coconut Turmeric Cheesecake Pots/One Green Planet

Getting more raw food into your diet is actually surprisingly easy. From a few bites of sauerkraut to snacking on some carrots and bell peppers to creating a decadent dessert, going raw is tasty and simple!

Desserts

Raw Raspberry Cheesecake Bars/One Green Planet

When it comes to getting creative with incorporating raw foods into your diet, go with desserts. Many nutrient-rich, antioxidant powerhouse products are inherently raw. Avocado, cacao powder, and fat-filled nuts are just a few of the decadent ingredients used in many raw desserts. Here are a few to get you started: Coconut Turmeric Cheesecake Pots, No-Bake Chocolate Peanut Butter Doughnuts, or these Raw Raspberry Cheesecake Bars.

Wrap it UpMu Ssam: Korean White Radish Wraps

Mu Ssam: Korean White Radish Wrap/One Green Planet

If you’re looking to make some easily transportable raw-lunch recipes, look to wrapping it up. By stuffing a wrap full with raw vegetables and herbs and some fresh dressing, you soften stiff veggies and turn the dial down on pungent flavors. Try making this Korean White Radish Wrap dish or these Raw Sushi Rolls With Sunflower Seed ‘Rice’ to give you the gist of the raw-wrap.

Dump it in a BowlGingery Carrot and Daikon Salad [Vegan, Gluten-Free]

Gingery Carrot and Daikon Salad/One Green Planet

The classic way to ingest raw foods is through a salad. It’s easily transportable for work lunches, quick to make in the evening after a long day, and you can get as creative and diverse as you want with the raw ingredients. The trick to enjoying a mostly raw salad is the dressing! Here are a few ideas: Gingery Carrot and Daikon Salad, Healthy Greek Broccoli Salad With Creamy Cashew Dressing, or this 10-Minute Raw Curry Zoodles recipe.

For more raw recipes, we highly recommend downloading our Food Monster App, which is available for both Android and iPhone, and can also be found on Instagram and Facebook. The app has more than 10,000 plant-based, allergy-friendly recipes, and subscribers gain access to new recipes every day. Check it out!  

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