Raw Food Diet

What is Raw Food Diet?

The Raw Food Diet traces back to the late 1800s, when Maximilian Bircher-Benner, a doctor, discovered he could cure his own jaundice by eating raw apples. Thus began a series of experiments testing the effects of raw food on human health, and the diet has continued to evolve. While there are numerous variations of the raw food diet today, it typically involves food that hasn’t been cooked, processed, microwaved, irradiated, genetically engineered or exposed to pesticides or herbicides. About 75% to 80% of what raw foodists eat each day will be plant-based foods never heated above 115 degrees Fahrenheit. (Very few people follow a 100% raw diet.) Most followers are vegan, but some choose to consume raw animal products, such as raw (unpasteurized) milk, cheese made from raw milk, sashimi, raw fish and certain kinds of raw meat. Proponents say cooking obliterates most of the vitamins in food and nearly all of the immune-boosting plant nutrients (though scientific evidence to support these claims is lacking). Most who follow the plan consume only half the calories they would eat on a cooked diet — just one of the reasons this low-calorie plan isn’t a great idea in nutrition pros’ minds.

Pros & Cons

  • Fruits and veggies dominate the menu
  • Nearly-guaranteed weight loss
  • Tedious meal prep; equipment required
  • Lots of rules

How does Raw Food Diet work?

There are numerous variations of the raw food diet, and you have the power to shape your own. Some tips for getting started include:

  • Fill your pantry with lots of fresh fruit and vegetables; sprouts; and seeds and nuts, including cashews, sunflower seeds and raw almond butter.
  • Look for foods marked as raw and sold at grocery stores.
  • Fill up on (uncooked) grains, as well as dried organic legumes (think lentils, chickpeas, adzuki beans and mung beans) eaten raw.
  • Add flavor through condiments like cold-pressed extra-virgin olive oil; raw virgin coconut oil; and raw coconut butter.
  • Sip on freshly-squeezed vegetable juice and herbal tea.
  • Invest in a dehydrator to create crunchy sweet potato chips from peeled and sliced sweet potatoes.
  • Purchase a food processor and blender to get creative with juices and even raw chocolate chip “cookies.”

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