Raw or not? The truth about 'raw' foods

Raw or not? The truth about 'raw' foods

Though a growing crowd of celebrities, fitness magazines and fad diets have only just begun to pick up and promote what they consider a trending "raw" diet, the truth is that raw foods packed with living enzymes have been fruitful and thriving since the very beginning. As Genesis 1:11-12 tells us:

“Then God said, 'Let the land produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it, according to their various kinds.' And it was so. The land produced vegetation: plants bearing seed according to their kinds and trees bearing fruit with seed in it according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good.”

The truth about raw foods

Though these Hollywood stars and their faithful followers may think they are part of the latest diet trends by adding raw foods to their diet, many of them have it all wrong.

Raw foods are found in their purest, most organic form

Raw means that a food is in its purest, most organic form and that it has not been modified in any way, according to “Everyday Wholesome Eating...In the Raw,” written by Kim Wilson. This means that its original state has not been transformed by chemicals, stabilizers, heat or preservatives and it still contains all or many of the essential nutrients that the body needs to thrive. These nutrients include fiber, chlorophyll, minerals, enzymes, vitamins, amino acids, purified water, oxygen, phytochemicals, essential fatty acids and complex carbohydrates.

Altering 'raw' foods through cooking

Any food that has been heated above 116 degrees is no longer considered raw, as this process destroy all of its enzymes, according to McGraw Hill's online edition of “Food for Today.” Even moderate heat can be detrimental to the true living form of food that provides essential nutrients, as it can activate certain enzymes that then set out to destroy some crucial vitamins and minerals such as vitamin C.

Cooking foods kills all of their enzymes, which are essential for delivering nutrients to the body.

The problem with killing enzymes through cooking before food is digested is that they play a pivotal role in bringing nutrients where they need to be delivered in the body, according to Wilson. These enzymes aid in transforming proteins into amino acids, fats and oils into simple fatty acids and complex carbs into simple sugars. When the enzymes are no longer available to do so, the body does not get the proper nutrients it needs.

Raw or not?

There are a number of foods that are commonly misconceived as raw, when in fact they are not. Many spices and seasonings are roasted, dried fruits such as prunes are often steamed and honey can sometimes be pasteurized or filtered. Here are four other items commonly confused as raw:
  • Shredded coconut - often pasteurized, or dried at temperatures above raw standards.
  • Olives - almost all are cooked unless they are deemed salt- or oil-cured.
  • Oats - most likely steamed during processing.
  • Tahini - if labeled "shelf-stable," it signifies that it was heated in the processing.
Knowing the difference between what foods are truly raw and not will have a big impact on your energy, nutrition and overall health.

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