A raw food diet consists mostly or completely of raw vegetables, fruit, nuts and seeds. Some people also consume raw eggs and dairy as well as raw fish and meat, although, less commonly. Grains and legumes can be eaten, but need to be soaked or sprouted first.
As long as the temperature never goes over 118F (48C), a food is considered to be raw. It also is not refined, pasteurized, or processed in any way. Preparation methods include juicing, blending, soaking, sprouting and dehydrating.
Most specialists who support the raw food diet say that just 75-80% of the diet is required to be raw to get all the benefits. The main idea of a mostly raw diet lies with the truth that lots of vegetables and fruits lose a significant percentage of their nutrients when the food is cooked. High heat does cause most enzymes to denature (to unravel or change shape). However, many enzymes become denatured in the acidic environment of the stomach when food is digested. Additionally, the body produces its own enzymes to facilitate digestion and energy production.
While cooking can decrease vitamin C and some B vitamins, it can increase the availability of other nutrients, such as lycopene and beta-carotene. While soaking and sprouting grains and legumes can make them digestible, cooking them reduces lectins and phytic acid which, in large quantities, can block the body from absorbing minerals.
Cruciferous vegetables like kale, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, mustard greens and Brussels sprouts contain goitrogen compounds which in excess can block thyroid function and contribute to hypothyroidism. But, these are mostly deactivated by heat and cooking. Some studies have also shown that peppers and mushrooms become more nutrient-dense when cooked.
There are pros and cons to both raw and cooked food. Ultimately, eating both in moderation is best for one’s health.