Raw food consists of fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds in their natural, unprocessed state. The benefits of eating raw food go beyond esoteric concepts like detoxifying or alkalinizing the body. Whether you’re a committed vegan or a meat-and-potatoes omnivore, here are seven compelling reasons you should consider adding more raw foods to your everyday diet.
A raw vegan diet is rich in vitamins, minerals, fiber, water, essential fatty acids, plant protein, beneficial enzymes and probiotics, phytochemicals and antioxidants. It is free of processed sugars, artificial sweeteners, chemicals and preservatives, unhealthy fats, animal products, and common allergens such as gluten and soy. Also, if you buy organic, a raw diet minimizes your intake of pesticides and GMOs.
Have you ever eaten a large, rich meal, only to feel pangs (literally) of regret shortly thereafter? When you overload your system with heavy cooked food (especially meat, dairy and processed carbohydrates), digestion becomes a laborious task. When you eat raw, however, not only is digestion speedier and more comfortable, but your body is better able to assimilate the unadulterated nutrients the food contains. The fiber and enzymes in raw food also help ease your body’s digestive process.
After an initial detox period, when the body is adjusting to a higher intake of pure, nutritious food, most people who transition to a raw diet experience a surge in energy. Don’t be surprised when you feed your body more vibrant, live food and you end up feeling more vibrantly alive! The abundance of vitamins and minerals and the lack of empty calories will combine to make you feel lighter, happier and more energetic. You may even reap the benefits of improved sleep quality, smoother skin and a sharper memory.
Fresh fruits and vegetables are low in calories but high in vitamins and minerals. The more produce you include in your daily diet, the less room there will be for your old, unhealthy standbys (which were almost certainly higher-calorie!). Better yet, you won’t feel deprived, since nuts and seeds contain protein and healthy fats and are extremely filling. Oh, and two words: raw chocolate. Yum! Not only will you feel nourished and satisfied, but effortless weight loss is highly likely.
Yes, you could invest in a dehydrator, but it’s perfectly possible to thrive on a raw diet without it. Think of how long it takes to peel a banana, throw together a salad, blend a smoothie or grab a handful of nuts…then compare that to the time you might currently spend in the kitchen (or waiting for the pizza man!). A raw diet is full of instant gratification.
A raw diet naturally supports the immune system, decreases inflammation and floods your body with free-radical-deactivating antioxidants. As a result, eating raw food can help decrease your susceptibility to common ailments like colds, the flu and fatigue—as well as to more severe and chronic conditions such as cancer, heart disease and diabetes. In giving your body more nutrition, you’re also increasing your own longevity!
Eating raw food is not a black-or-white decision, but rather a matter of proportions. Every raw snack, side dish or meal you add to your day will give your body the benefits I’ve described here. Simply put: the more raw foods you eat, the better you’ll feel, and the longer you’re likely to live. With rewards like these, you may very well find yourself falling head over heels in love with the raw side of life.
Amber Shea Crawley, creator and author of the popular food blog Chef Amber Shea, is a classically trained chef, linguist, and writer in Kansas City, Missouri. Specializing in healthful, plant-rich food, she is the author of the cookbooks Practically Raw and Practically Raw Desserts as well as the ebook The REAL FOOD Cleanse. Amber blogs at www.chefambershea.com and can also be found on Facebook and Twitter (@ChefAmberShea).