There are a number of diets and ways of eating that all promise good health, but are they really healthy? The buzz around a raw food diet has spread to Totowa, New Jersey. While it’s supposed to be healthier than a diet of cooked food, but is it really? There are three types of raw food diets. The first includes no animal based products and is vegan. The second is a vegetarian raw food diet, so it includes eggs and dairy products. Finally, there’s the raw omnivorous diet that includes all types of raw plant and animal based foods.
The raw vegan diet is the healthiest, but you might have problems getting adequate protein.
Raw oatmeal topped off with ground flaxseed, hemp seed or nuts is one way to start your day. You can make a paste from nuts and seeds and dehydrate it for a protein based bread. Nut milk, nut butter, protein powder and smoothies can also fill in the gap, but it takes a lot of planning. A raw vegetarian and omnivarian diet can be dangerous. It includes unpasteurized dairy and raw meat and eggs. You can get listeria and salmonella from them.
What about just eating vegetables raw and cooking everything else?
While that may seem healthier, it’s not necessarily. Even though raw vegetables have more nutrients, they aren’t necessarily bioavailable. Your body may not be able to absorb them, so potentially you won’t benefit as much as the cooked version. A study of three groups of women, one that ate both raw and cooked vegetables, one that ate just raw vegetables and the third that ate the diet of most Americans. The group that ate raw food had a higher intake of nutrients, such as beta-carotene, the group that ate both cooked and raw vegetables absorbed more nutrition.
Some vegetables benefit from cooking.
Lycopene, the phytochemical that makes tomatoes red, actually increases when you cook tomatoes. However, the vitamin C diminishes. Cooking can also help release certain vitamins and minerals. For instance raw spinach contains oxalate that binds to calcium so you can’t absorb it. Cooking the spinach reduces the amount of oxalate. The best method of cooking was boiling. Oxalate also adds to the potential for kidney stones if you’re susceptible to them.
- Flavor is often enhanced by cooking and so is digestibility. Potatoes contain lectins and starches that are hard to digest, while eggplant and corn have their flavor enhanced. Carrots are healthier when you heat them.
- Eating more vegetables and fruit is important, so finding a way you enjoy eating them is also just as important. If you like a vegetable cooked, then eat that that way.
- Experiment with your diet. Have you ever had sliced raw Brussels sprouts in a salad. Many people find that they actually taste better that way. Keep in mind however, that introducing too many crucifers like kale, Brussels sprouts and kale, at once can create digestive problems. Go slowly.
- Find ways to add vegetables, whether cooked or raw, to your diet. Roast some vegetables for a meal and then add leftovers to a salad. Include chopped leftover veggies, no matter what they are, to stir-fry. Even omelets can improve in flavor and healthiness with extra vegetables.
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