Food Is Not Your Enemy


Is Raw Food Better Food?

Foods in their raw form can be very healthy for us. Raw foods still contain all of their naturally occurring vitamins and minerals, as well as live enzymes and beneficial bacteria. Going raw also necessarily means you can’t eat such unhealthy fare as fried foods and most commercially prepared processed junk food.

If you commit to a raw diet your daily options will include raw fruits and veggies, raw nuts and seeds, sprouted beans, cold-pressed oils, and—if you’re okay with eating animal products—raw meat, raw fish, and raw milk products (i.e. unpasteurized milk and the foods made from it).

There are downsides, however, to eating lots of raw food. While cooking food kills off some of the nutrients, it also renders the food more digestible. Some people prone to digestive problems can actually feel quite terrible from raw fruits and veggies. Certain green vegetables in particular are really best eaten cooked. Spinach, beet greens, and chard are high in oxalic acid, a compound that blocks calcium and iron absorption, but which is largely neutralized if these greens are cooked. Cabbage, kale, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts contain chemicals that block the production of thyroid hormone, but are also safer when cooked.

Raw milk and its derivatives are all the rage in certain nutritionally conscious communities—and it is true that unpasteurized milk (meaning milk straight from the cow that is not heat-treated) is theoretically better for us, as more vitamins and minerals and enzymes remain in the milk in its raw state (Sally Fallon Morell, author of “Nourishing Traditions,” has written extensively about this subject, and heads a foundation dedicated to spreading the word about the benefits of raw milk products, among other traditional foods). But there is a real risk of contracting Salmonella, Listeria, or Campylobacter from raw milk if it is not processed in a completely safe and clean way. It’s a similar story with raw meats and fish—there is always a risk of the food being contaminated with bacteria or parasites. Its helps to either freeze the meat or fish for several days before preparing it for a raw dish, or curing it with salt or citrus first.

So is a raw diet for you? Only you can answer that question. Experiment with these foods and see how you feel. Do your research. And ask yourself if you can live without roast chicken, hamburgers, and Mom’s apple pie!

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