By definition, being a raw foodist means that you favor uncooked foods. Your meals — veggies, fruits, seeds, sprouted greens — are served in much the same state as when they were harvested. Below you’ll find a full list of raw foods, as well as a few that surprisingly aren’t.
There are various definitions of the term, but unpasteurized and unrefined foods generally also fall into the raw food category. Of course, anything that is baked or roasted is excluded.
If you are a raw foodie that follows the simple rule that anything uncooked by you is thus raw, then you are among the 75% of people that consider themselves raw foodists. In reality, not all raw foods are made equal. There are very few individuals that can claim to be 100% raw because there are many foods on store shelves that are in fact cooked prior to packaging.
Where is the raw food diet from?
The raw food diet was born in the 1800s and is closely tied to the Natural Hygiene Movement. Prominent physicians of the time started this movement based on the belief that the medical profession alone couldn’t keep people in optimal health.
Instead, this coalition of physicians wanted to teach people how to live free of illnesses and diseases by consuming only what nature intended for man to eat — namely, raw foods. As such, the movement’s rules dictate that food should not be heated to more than 118ᵒF so that its nutrients remain preserved as much as possible in their organic, natural form.
What are the benefits?
The raw foodists movement has continued to grow due to these purported benefits:
- Clear mind
- Healthier skin
- Improved digestive system
- Better sleep
- Increased energy
- Weight loss
The human body needs balanced pH alkaline levels. Eating raw foods like green leafy vegetables and fruits keeps the pH scale in check. Studies have also shown that the body also benefits from a diet that mainly consists of raw foods instead of trans fats or saturated fats.
Additional health benefits include higher nutrients, which help to fight diabetes, cardio-pulmonary illnesses, bone weakness from osteoporosis, certain cancer cells, and more.
By eating raw fruits, veggies, nuts and seeds, you are adding potassium, magnesium, fiber, and plant nutrients to your diet. This helps prevent weight gain and high blood pressure by lowering cholesterol and fatty acid levels in your system.
Common raw foods
If you aren’t totally convinced about incorporating raw foods into your daily dietary requirements, would you believe that you are already eating them?
Raw foods are natural food items that have developed naturally in what nature has provided — water, oxygen, vitamins and minerals from the soil. Here are some raw foods that you probably already enjoy without realizing it.
- Fresh fruits: apples, pears, pineapple, berries, cherries
- Fresh vegetables: carrots, turnips, sweet potatoes, cucumbers, peppers, tomatoes
- Leafy green and wild vegetables: kale, watercress, chard, nettle, dandelion, broccoli, spinach
- Herbs: basil, mint, cilantro, parsley, thyme, watercress
- Guacamole: this delicious dip is made with raw avocado
- Salad: varied salad ingredients contain raw lettuce, greens and more
- Salsa: fresh lemons or lime, tomatoes, peppers, and onions make up this favorite dip and snack
- Sauerkraut: it’s raw, plus it has been naturally fermented to be more digestible
Foods that aren’t actually raw
Unfortunately, most of these vegetarian favorites are not raw although many believe them to be:
- Almonds must be pasteurized with steam.
- Rolled oats must be heated to keep them on store shelves or they will spoil quickly.
- Cashew nuts are pre-cooked because the shells are coated with a corrosive chemical that must be soaked and roasted before the nut itself can be consumed.
- Pecans and macadamia nuts must be heated to remove their shells unless you grow them yourself.
- Dehydrated fruits are pre-blanched.
- Raw frozen foods are pre-blanched to keep them fresh.
- Most smoothies contain frozen fruit and Greek yogurt. A way to make this raw is to replace the frozen fruits with fresh and the yogurt with unpasteurized milk.
- Hummus is made of chickpeas, which must be cooked in order to become sort and as a result are not raw. An alternative to this would be a hummus made from sprouted beans instead of chickpeas.
- Natural sweeteners such as agave nectar, honey and maple syrup are often used as a sweet replacement for sugar, however in most cases they aren’t raw. The best way to avoid this is to buy unpasteurized honey, which will be indicated on the label.
The bottom line
Remember that becoming a raw foodist or incorporating this meal plan into your lifestyle is not a diet plan but a holistic way of eating. After all, eating a daily portion of raw veggies and fruit is a nutritious way to keep your health in check even if you are not a raw foodie.
The great advantage in eating raw foods is that you aren’t ingesting chemicals from fertilizers; there are no pesticides, no food additives and no solvents used in manufacturing. Physicians and health care industries are suggesting that we all cut back on processed foods and packaged high sodium foods.
Raw foods can be further enjoyed by adding different raw herbs (clove of garlic, ginger root basil); raw oils (pure olive, sesame, hemp); raw flavorings (honey, mesquite meal, onion, cayenne pepper) that are acceptable on this healthy meal plan.
If you and your family are considering becoming raw foodies, first make a visit to your physician and to a pediatrician to ensure that everyone is getting all the necessary nutrients your bodies (mentally and physically) will need.