The extent to which people follow a raw foods diet can vary widely from person to person. While to be considered to be truly following a raw foods diet someone must eat at least 75% of their diet in its raw state, practically everyone can benefit from including some raw foods in his or her diet on a regular basis.
In fact, there are some foods that are so much better for people in their raw state that it is a healthy choice to never cook them again!
So whether you follow a pure raw foods diet, eat mostly raw foods, or are simply looking to maximise the nutrients you get from the foods you eat, these six foods offer the most benefit when they are left raw.
Foods You Should Never Cook Again
Nuts and Seeds
Nuts and seeds like almonds, walnuts, cashews, sunflower seeds and others are a great source of heart healthy fats and protein whether roasted or raw, but many of their other nutritional benefits are lost when nuts are heated during the roasting process. Many of the vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that raw nuts offer are degraded by high temperatures.
Additionally, many commercially roasted nuts have unhealthy processed oils and sugars added to them, further making them a subpar option when compared to raw nuts.
Instead: If you are looking for an alternative to raw nuts, try sprouting them for a slightly different taste loaded with nutrients!
The juices that line most supermarket shelves may taste good, but nutritionally they offer few benefits and plenty of drawbacks. This is because the heat used in processing and pasteurising the juices destroys much of the antioxidant and enzyme content while they are destroying any potential germs. The end result is usually a juice that is loaded with sugars and little else.
Instead: Try a raw cold pressed juice instead. Choose an option that consists mainly of vegetables with just a bit of fruit for flavour. Juices prepared like this can be a great way to get enzymes, phytochemicals, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants from pounds and pounds of produce in the convenience of a single glass. Make your own or try a local cold pressed juice shop.
The good news? Studies have shown that the glucosinolates in cabbage have strong anti-cancer properties. The bad news? The glucosinates in cabbage decrease when the cabbage is cooked.
Instead: Maximise the cancer fighting properties of cabbage by enjoying it shredded and raw in a slaw. Or get a dose of natural probiotics along with your cabbage by enjoying it fermented as sauerkraut.
Berries are among the foods that perpetually make the lists of super foods people are encouraged to make a regular staple in their healthy diets. Before you load up on that blueberry pie or spread some strawberry jam in hopes of capitalising on the healthy benefits of berries, it is important to know that the all-important polyphenols berries provide people are altered by the heat used during the cooking process. (Not to mention the negative effects of the sugar that is typically added to berries when they are cooked).
Instead: Berries are perfect on their own, or if you are looking for something a bit fancier, try creating a parfait with layers of berries, crushed nuts, and whipped coconut milk for a delightful dessert packed with polyphenols!
Like blueberries, bell peppers have long enjoyed status as a super food people should be eating more frequently. It turns out that the vitamin C content of bell peppers, one of their main nutritional offerings, is largely destroyed when cooked.
Instead: Preserve the vitamin C levels of bell peppers, as well as their pleasant crunchy texture, by seeding and slicing them and serving them as a healthy and flavourful alternative to crackers with dips and salsas.
Raw food experts argue that milk that has been homogenised and pasteurised at extremely high temperatures bears little nutritional resemblance to the milk that originally comes from dairy cows. The beneficial enzymes from dairy products that do things like help your body fight allergies are largely destroyed with the high temperature processing most dairy products go through as is the good bacteria that helps produce balanced gut flora.
Instead: Depending on regulations where you live, raw dairy products can be hard to find, but the search to find a high quality, reputable source of raw dairy products will be well worth the effort. As an added bonus, many people testify that the taste improves as exponentially as the nutritional values! (Caution: this is not recommended if you’re under 18 or pregnant)