Is the raw food diet a fad? The jury’s out, but the study results are rolling in, so it may not be out for long. The meal plan comprises completely uncooked fruits, vegetables and nuts with almost no meat. The raw foodists’ goal is to eat food as unaltered as possible, and if they do eat animal products, they are not pasteurized. Although the diet is on the rise and still new, it is not so new as to have no research. Study groups are grabbing onto this interesting lifestyle and determining its benefits.
It’s true and probably no surprise researchers have shown that the raw food diet is rich in nutrients as well as full of fiber and low in fat and sugars. One type of vegetables, the cruciferous vegetables, contain isothiocyanates, which alter proteins in cancer cells. One study found that even infrequent intake of raw crucifers appears to lower the risk of bladder cancer. Cruciferous vegetables are cabbage, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, and kale.
Raw food consumers eat this way to protect themselves against chronic disease, and according to a German study, they are smart to do so. Researchers found that participants had low cholesterol and triglycerides. Studying long-term raw foodists only, one group reported that consumers exhibited healthy levels of vitamin A and dietary carotenoids. Because of their raw vegetable intake, dieters in 50 medical studies demonstrated that eating raw vegetables helped reduce their risk of oral, esophageal and gastric cancers. The regimen also reduced pharyngeal and laryngeal cancers.
Not all raw foodists are meatless raw foodists, but if they are eating raw, their protein and dairy sources are, too. In other words, they are unpasteurized. When most people hear of a raw food diet, they assume that the lack of pasteurizing is probably the biggest danger to the method. However, according to studies, the biggest danger actually exists for those that choose to go completely meatless, or in other words, vegan. Studies found a few things for vegan raw foodists that shun animal products to beware that meat-eaters need not concern themselves with. For instance, vegans’ vitamin B12 levels can be low, as found in a study in Finland. The American Dietetic Association suggests also monitoring calcium, iron, Vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids of non-meat eaters. Good sources are legumes, almonds and cashews for iron, and bok choy, cabbage, tempeh and figs for calcium. Flaxseed and walnuts aid in omega-3 intake, and beans help with protein.
The subject of whether to meat or not to meat will always be a controversial one, but no one can argue from these findings and hundreds like them that choosing a diet high in fruits and vegetables, particularly fresh produce, is a disease-dodging decision.