When it comes to eating for your health, many people swear by a plant-based diet. This style of eating can take on many forms, from simply working more fruits and veggies into your day to transitioning to a full-on vegan regimen. Want to take things a step further? Focusing on raw foods is one way to bring a plant-based diet to a whole new level.
A raw food diet generally consists of uncooked, unaltered plant-based items. This can include fresh produce, whole grains, sprouted seeds, beans, some varieties of dried fruit and raw nuts. Alcohol, caffeine and processed sugars are generally prohibited, as are animal products (with the possible exception of unpasteurized milk and eggs). Strict raw programs usually consist of about 75 percent fruits and vegetables.
Those who follow a strict raw food diet will not eat food that’s been heated beyond 115 to 118 degrees Fahrenheit. This is because they believe that warming the items destroys enzymes and vitamins that are critical for proper digestion. Though this point is a matter of hot debate in the scientific community, some studies do suggest that raw items are slightly more nutrient-rich than their cooked counterparts.
If you’re considering transitioning to a full-on raw food diet, make sure to do your research first! Raw foodists must consume a delicately balanced selection of items each day to get all of the fuel their bodies need to function. It is also prudent to take a multi-vitamin to make sure you’re getting enough vitamin B12, calcium, iron, and omega-3 fatty acids.
If you’re interested in testing the waters but aren’t ready to jump in the pool, never fear! You don’t need to go all in to reap the benefits that a raw diet offers. Raw diets are naturally low in fat, sodium and sugar, as well as high in fiber. Simply incorporating more raw items into your daily diet (as opposed to processed items) can help you lose weight and gain energy.
Work in more raw items as the mood strikes; for instance, you can make a filling and nutritious chia seed smoothie for breakfast. Pour 16 ounces of water into a blender. Turn the appliance onto the lowest speed and slowly add 2 to 3 tablespoons of ground chia seeds to the water. Finally, throw in a few handfuls of berries or sliced bananas, turn off the blender and let the smoothie sit for about five minutes. The chia seeds will thicken the smoothie and cause it to resemble a loose gel. Chill the smoothie if desired, then drink it down!