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This isn't another fad diet. The raw food diet is actually less of a diet and more of a lifestyle. ‘Raw Foodies' eat foods that have not been cooked and are close to their original form. The diet emphasizes the importance of avoiding foods which have been processed, pasteurized, homogenized, or contain pesticides, hormones, additives, or stabilizers. By staying away from these things, we can more easily digest our food and will benefit from greater nutrient absorption. The raw food lifestyle has been linked to lowering inflammation, improving digestion, improving heart health, and even preventing cancer. People on the raw food diet claim to have clearer skin, more energy, and rarely suffer from nutrient deficiency. Here is all you need to know about the raw food diet to get started.

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Foods to eat on the raw food diet

Instead of starting with what not to eat, we'll get you started with foods you can eat. Keep in mind that there are many opinions about which foods are ‘acceptable' and which are not. Some people may eat dairy products or raw eggs while others won't, and some may even eat cooked meat on occasion. The following foods are eaten by most people on raw food diets:

  • All fresh fruits and vegetables
  • Raw nuts and seeds
  • Dried fruit
  • Grains and legumes, sprouted or soaked
  • Nut milk
  • Raw meat or fish
  • Nut butter (raw)
  • Fermented foods (e.g., kimchi or miso)
  • Cold-pressed oil (olive or coconut)
  • Seaweed
  • Raw eggs
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Foods to avoid on the raw food diet

The idea of eating raw foods is to get back to the most natural form of that food. No additives, no preservatives, no stabilizers, and no pesticides. When choosing fresh fruits and vegetables, opt for organic—that way you can be sure that you're not putting any harmful pesticides in your body. Avoid eating these foods:

  • Anything roasted, baked, boiled or fried
  • Pasta
  • Refined Oils
  • Refined sugars
  • Processed snacks
  • Table salt
  • Refined flour
  • Alcohol
  • Pasteurized dairy products or juices
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How to prepare your food

The raw food diet encourages you to eat food that has not been heated. The heating process destroys essential nutrients and enzymes which are important for digestion and for staving off diseases and inflammation. So—stoves and ovens are out. What's in? Blenders, food processors, mixers, and dehydrators may all be used to prepare food on the raw food diet. Food may be warmed up to 118 degrees F, but not cooked.

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The goal of the raw food diet

The raw food diet is not a diet for losing weight—although this is a likely outcome. The raw food diet is a lifestyle of healthy choices over unhealthy ones—of unprocessed over processed. The goal of this diet is to consume the most nutrients and the least toxins possible to prevent health conditions like constipation, cancer, heart disease, osteoporosis, Parkinson's disease, autoimmune disorders, inflammation, hormonal imbalance, and weight gain.

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Raw food diet and protein

You may be wondering if people on a raw food diet consume enough protein. There are plenty of ways to get that protein in without eating cooked foods. Plant-based protein is the first and easiest option when seeking protein on the raw food diet. Avocados contain 4g of protein each, while many leafy green vegetables like kale, collard greens, and mustard greens pack a lot of protein per cup. Nuts are also excellent sources of protein—peanuts and pine nuts contain the most, with 7g of protein per ounce. Seeds, like pumpkin seeds and flax seeds, also contain protein, with 8.5g per ounce, and 7.5g per ¼ cup, respectively. Another incredibly healthy—yet pricey—plant-based protein source is spirulina. Spirulina is blue-green algae and happens to be the most nutritious food available on this planet—with over 65 nutrients including all essential amino acids—it will surely fill any protein gaps. Another option is to consider getting protein from raw animal sources. Sashimi, which is thinly sliced raw fish (usually salmon or tuna) or ceviche—raw fish marinated in citrus juice—are both excellent sources of protein.

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Raw food diet long-term

The raw food diet can be challenging to follow—even those who are able to stick to it rarely do so long-term. That isn't to say there aren't raw foodies out there that have been successfully raw-fooding for years. Many people go on the raw food diet to detox their systems, lose some weight, and gain some energy and then slowly reintroduce healthy cooked foods. Another thing to note is that while the cooking process does degrade some nutrients, it brings out other nutrients, making them more digestible and more absorbable. Beta-carotene and lycopene are two such nutrients. Just do yourself a favor and never reintroduce processed snacks, deep-fried foods or refined sugars into your diet.

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Can anyone go on the raw food diet?

No. The raw food diet is certainly not for everyone. Some people lack certain enzymes and therefore have difficulty digesting raw fruits and vegetables. Others simply do not fare well on high-fiber diets. People with digestive problems like ulcerative colitis or inflammatory bowel disease may not tolerate the raw food diet.

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Do you want to try the raw food diet? Talk to your doctor to determine if it's a good fit for you. The raw food diet will help you to become more aware of the good, the bad, and the ugly foods out there so that you can make healthier choices.

Disclaimer

This site offers information designed for educational purposes only. You should not rely on any information on this site as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, treatment, or as a substitute for, professional counseling care, advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have any concerns or questions about your health, you should always consult with a physician or other healthcare professional.