Our knowledge of what is and isn’t ‘healthy’ food seems to be increasing along with the world getting smaller. Fresh ingredients from different cultures are now commonplace in many home kitchens. Social media is awash with healthy food ideas and even governments are doing more to try and encourage people to eat the right types of food(1).

One thing that is sometimes overlooked though is that healthy foods need not actually be cooked at all. We’re conditioned to cook foods to high temperatures to rid them of parasites and bacteria and in the case of things such as meat and poultry, this is of course recommended! By cooking absolutely everything though, we’re missing out on some of the best nutritional health that nature has provided us with.

The benefits…

1. Does eating raw foods mean they will be a better quality?

Heating food depletes it of the different vitamins it contains. High heats damage fats and proteins and destroy the enzymes that benefit digestion.

2. Do raw foods taste better than cooked foods?

Raw foods are extremely good tasting! They have stronger, richer and sweeter flavours than they do once they have been cooked. As tempting as something like chocolate might be, there’s simply no denying the natural sweetness of a ripe, juicy peach or a crunchy carrot.

3. Will eating raw foods save you time?

We’re all busy people. Raw foods by their very nature take less time to prepare and can provide a healthy, nutritious meal or snack in a flash.

4. Do raw foods contain less free radicals than cooked foods?

Cooking food releases free radicals; highly-reactive chemicals that have the potential to damage our cells.  Free radicals are increasingly being implicated in the onset of many diseases and illnesses(2).

5. Does eating raw foods cause less stress to the environment?

The farming of raw foods, such as fruits and vegetables, do not have the same impact on the environment as those that require cooking, such as meat. Meat production accounts for the largest environmental impact, including greenhouse gas emissions, land and water use(3). Average greenhouse gas emissions are significantly less in raw foods than they are in cooked foods. Full details of specific types of foods and their impact on the environment can be seen here.

The diet you choose to follow is a lifestyle choice and should never be a punishment. Whether you eat meat, fish, dairy or are vegetarian or vegan, an increase in raw food will benefit all diets and give you a natural health boost with good tasting dishes brimming with a wide range of the different vitamins you need to stay healthy.

(1) NHS: Why 5 a day?

(2) NCBI: Free radicals in foods

(3) NCBI: “Eat as if you could save the planet and win!” Sustainability Integration into Nutrition for Exercise and Sport

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