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The Pros and Cons of a “Raw Foods” Diet

Jul 6, 2021

The Pros and Cons of a “Raw Foods” Diet


Most likely we have all heard about the “raw food” diet. The raw food diet (aka raw foodism) consists of eating only or mostly raw and unprocessed foods. There is some flexibility though. In a raw food diet, 70 percent or more of the food we eat is raw. This allows some wriggle room in our food choices and makes a raw food diet more compatible and more realistic with a busy lifestyle.

But how do we define “raw”. There is some debate, but generally a food that has never been heated above 118°F (48°C) is considered raw. For this diet, foods should also be unrefined, unpasteurized, and pesticide-free. Several preparation methods jive well with the raw food diet. Juicing, (raw) souping, blending, dehydrating, soaking, and sprouting are commonly used techniques. Basically, anything that does not require heating or processing the food.

Some examples of foods that can be consumed when following a raw food diet are:

  • Fresh, juiced, (cold) souped or dehydrated fruit
  • Fresh, juiced, (cold) souped or dehydrated vegetables
  • Seaweed, sprouts, sprouted or soaked grains or legumes
  • Raw nuts, nut butters, nut milks, seeds and cold-pressed vegetable, seed and nut oils
  • Raw dairy (unpasteurized), raw eggs (if desired), raw or dehydrated fish (think sushi)

Examples of foods that should be avoided when following a raw food diet are:

  • Cooked foods (heated above 118°F (48°C)
  • Roasted seeds and nuts, including their butters if heated
  • Refined oils, sugars and flour
  • Baked goods, pasta, table salt, coffee, tea and alcohol
  • Pasteurized juices and dairy products
  • Any processed foods or snacks

The benefits of a raw food diet are substantial, especially compared to our nutritionally lackluster, “modern” diets. A raw diet packs in tons of fresh fruits and vegetables, which means vitamins, minerals and fiber galore. It features nuts, seeds, and oils that provide plenty of healthy fats. Additionally, fresh raw foods are more hydrating than their cooked counterparts.

Because raw foodism emphasizes unprocessed foods, it minimizes the number of nonessentials in our diet. “Manufactured” food often contains ingredients linked to poor nutrition. (Think sugar, excess salt, those weird chemical additives you cannot even pronounce.)

If we are talking volumetrics, we will like that the raw food diet tends to be low in calories. All those fruits and veggies give a lot of slow-burning bang for the caloric buck. This means we may be able to eat a bigger quantity of food than on other diets.

Following a raw food diet can help with weight loss, more energy, improved symptoms from chronic illness, better overall wellness and possibly a smaller grocery bill.

The potential drawbacks to a raw food diet are fairly minimal, however, should be considered. Potential drawbacks include:

  1. Low caloric intake can make eating enough calories everyday a challenge. Sounds funny doesn’t it, when we have grown used to reducing calories our entire lives.
  2. Raw foods can be more difficult to digest, leading to a harder time for our body to extract the calories and nutrition from the foods.
  3. Eating a strict raw food diet can lead to unbalanced nutrition. Raw foods can be heavy on fats (nuts and oils) and sugars (natural sugars from fruit) while being light on protein.

Bottom line – eating a wide variety of raw foods is a great way to boost our nutrition and possibly drop some unwanted weight in the process. We can still enjoy some of our favorite cooked foods and recipes, just add some raw foods in with every meal and we are on a good path. Be Blessed.

Category: Dr. Sterling