The raw diet has been a trend among some, as it has been claimed that cooking foods removes important nutrients and is unhealthy. So is it true?
The Raw Food Diet
It cannot be stressed enough that there is a harmful idea going around that putting your body on full-restriction mode is somehow better for you, and even an indicator of “strong willpower.” But restrictiveness does not necessarily spell “healthy.” So before you start a diet that seems to be trending, first make sure you’re comfortable with the prospect, and secondly, make sure it’s even good for you.
The rave of the raw food diet is based on the idea that heat doesn’t just denature natural enzymes in our fresh fruits and veggies, but also creates toxins to them.
RawFoodLife.com owner publicizes his opinion on the matter, saying: “Unnatural chemical by-products with long chemical names are things that cause, or at least are scientifically known to be associated with, most of the diseases that can’t seem to be cured today.”
“Before discovering fire, 10,000 to 20,000 years ago, we thrived for millions of years [sic] on fresh, raw, live foods furnished by nature in their whole unadulterated state. In some ways, cooking allowed humans to expand all over the world, from Africa to Antarctica. However, we paid dearly for that with shorter lifespans and many diseases.”
What Does The Research Say Though?
So it seems to be intuitive that uncooked foods have more nutrients preserved in them. But is that completely accurate? According to studies by Cornell University’s food science associate professor Rui Liu, heat does indeed reduce vitamin C levels. The study showed that tomatoes cooked for a period of 2 mins at 88C, showed a 10% drop in vitamin C. This value jumped to 29 percent when cooked for 30 minutes.
However, Loi said that this trade-off may be important. Vitamin C is pretty abundant in modern diets, whereas lycopene, an antioxidant made more available through cooking, is pretty rare. In the study, tomato cis-lycopene rose by about 35 percent after 30 minutes of cooking. Cooking them helps break down cell walls to facilitate your uptake of the nutrient.
Other foods, such as mushrooms, spinach, cabbage and peppers also have antioxidants that are made more available by steaming or boiling, such as ferulic acid and carotenoids. Eggs have also been shown to improve their protein availability when cooked, by about 40 percent.
Many experts argue against the idea that just because we ate a certain way ages ago, doesn’t mean it’s more biologically ideal. We, as humans, have also adapted for thousands of years since that time to diets closer to our time period.