Raw food diet plans consist of uncooked, unprocessed foods. They are predominantly vegan or vegetarian, although there are some “Raw Foodists” that practice eating raw meats, especially fish as in sashimi or raw eggs. The driving belief behind Raw Foodism seems to be the idea that cooking foods is unnatural and lowers the nutritional quality of the meal. While it is certainly true that eating raw vegetables can sometimes be healthier than eating cooked vegetables, there is no reason to believe that a diet consisting of completely raw foods is a healthy option.
Often proponents of raw food diet plan claim that one of the reasons uncooked foods are healthier is because the enzymes required to break the foods down are destroyed by the cooking process. This claim, however, is not biologically sound as our bodies produce all the enzymes required to break down our food themselves. Also, these same enzymes that would be destroyed by cooking don’t stand much of a chance in the low pH environment of the human stomach even if they did make it down the esophagus undamaged.
Another popular claim by Raw Foodists is that cooking certain foods destroys some of their nutritional value. This is true in some cases, for example vitamin C is not very stable when exposed to heat and most cooked vegetables will have a reduced amount. In other cases, however, cooking increases the nutritional value of our food by making more of the nutrients available for absorption by the body, like those bound to thick plant cell walls. Many vegetables provide more antioxidants to the body cooked than they do raw. The fact of the matter is that most vegetables offer different benefits when raw or cooked and the key to a healthy diet is including a variety of both.
As with a vegan diet, anyone thinking of adopting a raw food diet plan needs to plan their nutrition carefully and consider the use of supplements for things such as protein, B12, iron, calcium, etc. Nutrient deficiencies can lead to a number of serious medical complications. Some research suggests Raw Foodists may also be at an increased risk for low bone mass.