A raw food diet is one that promotes the consumption of uncooked foods. Raw foods, including fruits, vegetables, meats, nuts, seeds and herbs, are foods eaten in their natural, unprocessed, uncooked state. If a person’s uncooked food consumption consists of 75% to 100% of their overall total food consumption, then he or she is typically considered to be practicing a raw food diet. Raw food proponents believe a diet of fresh and uncooked foods results in greater health benefits when compared to a diet largely consisting of cooked and or processed foods.
Raw food proponents advocate a raw food diet for the following primary reasons:
Uncooked foods contain a higher level of nutrients compared to cooked foods. Fruits and vegetables contain their highest level of nutrients just after they are harvested. Nutrient loss begins after harvest, continues through transport and storage and can greatly accelerate depending on the cooking method employed.
Uncooked foods, like fruits and vegetables, are high in antioxidants which help prevent certain cancers.
Cooking various foods can result in vitamin and mineral losses of up to 70% to 80%. In general, the more exposure food has to light, heat and oxygen (cutting foods exposes them to nutrient loss); the worse off food is from a nutritional standpoint. Boiling food typically causes the most nutrient loss.
Uncooked foods contain higher levels of enzymes. Enzymes are largely proteins, complex chains of amino acids, which catalyze or increase the rate of chemical reactions such as those involved in metabolism and digestion. The raw food community generally believes that enzymes are destroyed at temperatures above 116 degrees Fahrenheit, or 47 degrees Celsius, and that consuming raw food releases beneficial enzymes in the mouth and stomach prior to digestion.
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Per the National Cancer Institute, studies have shown that cooking meat, especially grilling meat, can produce harmful chemical toxins, including heterocyclic amines (or HCAs), which are not present in uncooked meat. These chemicals, including HCAs, may increase the risk of developing cancer. In particular, studies have shown that HCAs increase threefold when cooking temperatures are over 400 degrees Fahrenheit or 204 degrees Celsius, temperatures normally associated with barbecuing, grilling and frying.
Uncooked foods can be prepared and eaten in various ways. Obviously, fresh foods can be eaten uncooked right after they are harvested. Juicing various combinations of fruits and vegetables is also a popular choice for consuming fresh food. Raw food diets also incorporate the use of a food dehydrator. Food dehydrators use two basic elements during the food drying process; heat and air. A typical food dehydrator contains a heating element and a fan and vents for air circulation. A food dehydrator’s heating component and fan work in concert to remove moisture from food. As the heat warms the food, its moisture is released and evaporated into the air. Food dehydrators are ideal tools for the preservation and storage of food. Raw food supporters dehydrate food at temperatures at or below 116 degrees Fahrenheit, or 47 degrees Celsius, so that vital food enzymes are not destroyed and nutrient loss is minimized.
Visit Food-Dehydrator.com to learn how to dehydrate food and make beef jerky and dried fruit. Use our content and food dehydrator calculators to discover the benefits of food dehydrators and how they can be a part of a raw food diet.
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