Hollywood stars, professional athletes and health conscious folks everywhere are touting the benefits of a raw-food diet. What is it? What do you eat? What are the benefits and drawbacks?

What is the raw food diet?

The raw-food diet consists of eating unprocessed, non-genetically modified, mostly organic foods that have not been heated over 115 degrees Fahrenheit. Seventy-five percent of what a person consumes must fit this criteria in order to be considered practicing a raw food diet.

What do you eat on the raw food diet?

Some people practicing this diet are vegan and consume no dairy, fish, eggs or meat. However, some folks eat raw fish and unpasteurized dairy products. In a typical day, the majority of food consumed should come from plant sources. Some example of foods eaten on this diet are vegetables, fruit, fresh juice, raw virgin coconut oil, nuts, seeds, herbal tea and raw nut butters.

Advantages

Weight loss is a primary benefit of the raw-food diet. The diet is low in fat and most people converting to a raw-food diet lose weight. Many people using the raw food diet see increased cardiovascular health. However, any diet low in saturated fats and high in vegetables and fruit produces similar results. Cooking destroys natural enzymes in food. Therefore, the raw food diet is high in enzymes that are missing from other diets.

Disadvantages

The raw food diet requires a lot of time to be spent on food preparation. For people with a busy lifestyle, this diet can be hard to maintain. Also, several kitchen appliances are typically required for preparing a raw food meal. These items include a blender, food processor, food dehydrator and juicer. Most restaurants do not label foods as raw and may not have raw food offerings. Dining out can be difficult. Organic, unprocessed foods are often pricey. This diet can be expensive.

The raw-food diet has many health benefits including weight loss, increased nutrition and better cardiovascular health. In general, uncooked food contains more vitamins and minerals than cooked food does. The preparation and cost of the food consumed on the raw food diet may be prohibitive to some.