‘Raw’ is ev­ery­where — raw bliss balls, raw-food cafés, raw green shakes, and let’s not for­get those ubiq­ui­tous raw kale sal­ads.

Healthy Food Guide (Australia) - - CON­TENTS -

Learn about the lat­est food trend

You’ve no doubt heard amaz­ing claims about the health ben­e­fits of eat­ing raw food: clearer skin, stronger im­mu­nity, greater en­ergy, eas­ier weight loss and even slower age­ing. So is a raw-food diet the key to good health?

Food in the raw Go­ing ‘raw’ means eat­ing most of your food un­cooked. This is a diet of fresh fruit and ve­gies, nuts and seeds, plus ex­tra-vir­gin olive oil and other cold-pressed oils. (These oils are ex­tracted by squeez­ing rather than with heat and chem­i­cals.)

Raw-food en­thu­si­asts avoid eat­ing any­thing that has been cooked or heat pro­cessed. They be­lieve that tem­per­a­tures higher than 40°C kill the ‘life force’ of food (and dam­age its en­zymes), and in­ter­fere with the di­ges­tive process. Cur­rently, lit­tle sci­en­tific ev­i­dence sup­ports these ideas. ‘Raw-ism’ comes in many forms. Some raw food­ies fol­low a ve­gan diet, whereas oth­ers eat raw meat (carpac­cio) or seafood (sashimi and oys­ters). In the US, some peo­ple even drink raw milk, but our health au­thor­i­ties ad­vise against this, be­cause con­sum­ing un­pas­teurised milk can cause se­ri­ous ill­ness, such as sal­mo­nella. (In Aus­tralia, the sale of raw milk is il­le­gal.)

‘Raw’ pack­aged foods Un­like the words or­ganic and high fi­bre, the term ‘raw’ has no legally bind­ing def­i­ni­tion. As a re­sult, some pack­aged foods now boast a ‘raw’ claim ( just like the prod­ucts below). But how does some dried fruit qual­ify as raw? Well, it’s dried below that crit­i­cal 40°C. You may also come across ‘raw’ Essene grain bread, which is a dense, heavy un­cooked bread.

Your body on raw foods Raw foods re­ward your body in sev­eral ways. You avoid sug­ary and highly pro­cessed foods, along with any­thing that’s been pas­teurised or ho­mogenised. In ad­di­tion, your food will be free of ad­di­tives, pes­ti­cides, in­dus­trial sol­vents and chem­i­cal fer­tilis­ers.

Fol­low­ing a raw diet can also help you lose weight, be­cause you eat a lot of food, but it’s all rel­a­tively low in kilo­joules. This way of eat­ing also fills your diet with fruit and veg — some­thing most of us need to do — and lifts your in­take of phy­to­chem­i­cals (plant an­tiox­i­dants) as well as heat-sen­si­tive vi­ta­mins, such as vitamin C and fo­late.

Al­though cook­ing de­stroys some nu­tri­ents, the process has its ad­van­tages: Heat zaps bad bac­te­ria; im­proves the nu­tri­ents in toma­toes, lentils, beans and nuts; and soft­ens starchy foods, such as pota­toes, mak­ing them eas­ier to eat and digest.

THE BOT­TOM LINE There’s no need to com­mit your­self ex­clu­sively to raw food, but eat­ing more fresh fruit and veg is great for your health!

Raw-food en­thu­si­asts avoid eat­ing any­thing that’s been cooked or

heat pro­cessed

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