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Raw Food Diet: Half-Baked Idea

By Cheryl Forberg
Image of daikon
The raw food diet has been touted for a variety of health benefits including weight loss, increased energy and better digestion.
Image of broccoli
The eating plan consists largely of uncooked and unprocessed plant foods including fruits and vegetables, beans, sprouts, grains, nuts, seeds and seaweed.

The biggest benefit of a raw food diet may also be its biggest drawback -- the impact of cooking on the nutrient value of food. Cooking certain vegetables is thought to kill the enzymes they contain which helps to digest them. Cooking can also result in vitamin loss. Vitamin loss in food is affected by:
  • Exposure to air.
  • Exposure to light.
  • Exposure to heat.
Whether vitamin is fat or water-soluble.
Vitamin loss from cooking is more significant with water-soluble vitamins such as B and C, because prolonged heating breaks them down. Fat Soluble vitamins (D, E, A and K) as well as fat soluble plant chemicals (e.g. lycopene) become more concentrated. For example, concentration INCREASES with cooking (because water is lost).

To optimize vitamin levels:
  • Use foods when optimally fresh.
  • If cooking – steam food instead of boiling and avoid long cooking times.
Significance of vitamin/nutrient loss depends on a given food's context in the overall diet. Balanced diet would include all nutrients, both fat and water-soluble. Even if you choose to follow a raw only diet, it's not necessarily better if your body has issues digesting raw foods. As we get older, some of us have digestive problems with raw onions, cucumbers, bell peppers etc. At this point it becomes subjective. How much benefit are we deriving from eating all raw foods if we don't enjoy how it makes us feel? At the end of the day, I think it's best to eat a combination of fresh and raw foods to achieve the optimal amount of nutrients and vitamins they contain. Here's a scrumptious raw recipe for a vegetable we typically enjoy cooked.

Ginger Sesame Broccoli Daikon Salad
Eight ¾-cup servings
Image of Ginger Sesame Broccoli Daikon Salad
12 ounces trimmed raw broccoli, cut in 1-inch lengths (including floret section)
12 ounces peeled daikon, cut in 1-inch lengths

For dressing:
2 Tbsp. Unseasoned rice wine vinegar
1 Tbsp. ponzu soy sauce
1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
1 Tbsp. chopped garlic
1 Tbsp. sushi ginger
1 Tbsp. white or yellow miso
2 tsp. toasted sesame oil
¼ cup canola oil
2 Tbsp. chopped cilantro
½ tsp. crushed red pepper flakes (optional)

1 tsp. black sesame seeds (or toasted white sesame seeds)

Using the grating attachment (not fine) of the food processor, grate the broccoli and daikon in bowl of the food processor. Transfer to a medium mixing bowl. Set aside. Rinse bowl of food processor to reuse. In bowl of food processor, measure vinegar, soy, mustard, garlic, ginger and miso. Process til smooth. With blade running, drizzle in sesame oil and then canola in a thin stream to create an emulsified dressing. There will be about ½ cup. Add cilantro and chili flakes (if using) to vegetables. Pour dressing over and toss well. Garnish with sesame. Makes about 6 cups.

Nutrition Facts:
Calories 100
Calories from Fat 70
Total Fat g 8
Sat Fat g < 1
Cholesterol mg 0
Sodium mg 160
Total Carb g 5
Dietary Fiber g 2
Sugar g 2
Protein g 2
Vitamin A % 10
Vitamin C % 70
Calcium % 4
Iron % 4
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