A raw food diet has some positive points. Mainly, it is very high in fresh fruits and vegetables. It also incorporates other foods that are high in nutrients and fiber. To its credit, a raw food diet limits the intake of foods known to contribute to poor health if you eat them in excess, such as processed junk foods and added sugar.
Additionally, a raw food diet nearly guarantees weight loss because it is low in calories. Yet despite this, there are also many cons to a raw food diet. When someone switches from a mostly cooked diet to a mostly raw diet, their calorie intake is likely to decrease dramatically. Some people may not find it possible to eat enough raw food to meet their daily calorie needs 12 , This is partially because fruits and vegetables, though healthy, simply don't provide enough calories or protein to make up the majority of the diet.
Additionally, cooking increases the digestibility of foods, making it easier for your body to get calories and nutrients from them. In some cases, your body gets significantly fewer calories from a food if it's raw 14 , Cooking also increases the amount of certain nutrients and antioxidants your body absorbs 6 , 7 , 8. Finally, raw diets tend to be nutritionally unbalanced because they must be mostly made up of either fats or fruits to meet calorie needs This means raw diets may be deficient not only in calories, but also in some vitamins, minerals and protein Like most of the beliefs behind the raw food diet, many of the supposed health benefits are not supported by evidence.
Some studies have found the raw food diet to have positive health effects, but much of the research has found it has negative effects. One study of people following a raw food diet found that it lowered blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels. However, it also lowered "healthy" HDL cholesterol levels and led to a vitamin-B12 deficiency for many Another study found that people following a raw diet over long periods of time had an increased risk of tooth erosion Nevertheless, studies have consistently found that the raw food diet is associated with having less body fat.
One study of participants following a raw diet long-term found that it was associated with large losses of body fat Men lost an average of And nearly one-third of women developed amenorrhea, meaning they stopping menstruating, which can be a consequence of low body weight.
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Another small study found that people following a raw vegan diet had significantly lower calorie intake and body fat than those who weren't following the diet. Nonetheless, they also had low protein, calcium and vitamin D intakes The same study found that participants following a raw vegan diet had low bone mass, potentially due to low calorie and protein intake Overall, following a raw food diet may lead to weight loss or even improve some markers of health, such as blood lipids.
But despite this, the significant risk of negative health effects outweighs the potential benefits of this diet. A mostly raw diet makes it difficult to get enough calories, protein and certain vitamins and minerals. Some people may not be able to get enough calories from this diet. The evidence also shows that the larger the proportion of raw food in your diet, the higher the risk of negative effects Unless you take supplements, you may develop problems from nutrient inadequacies over time as your body's vitamin and mineral stores are used up.
Vitamin B12 and vitamin D are particularly hard to get in raw vegan diets. However, even nutrition supplements cannot make up for a lack of calories and protein in the diet. Additionally, the risk of being exposed to a foodborne illness is increased when you consume foods raw This is especially true if raw dairy, eggs or meat are part of your diet. Nutrition experts always recommend that people only eat these when they're fully cooked or pasteurized 11 , For starters, food choices are very limited and avoiding cooked foods makes it difficult to go out to eat or to eat with friends. Avoiding cooked foods also means that food preparation methods are very limited, so a raw food diet can get boring.
Many people also find eating only cold foods to be undesirable. Lastly, it can be expensive to buy so much fresh, organic produce, not to mention time consuming to plan and prepare. Fresh, raw foods are a valuable part of a healthy diet. However, it is possible to have too much of a good thing. A completely or even mostly raw diet is likely to cause weight loss, but also makes it difficult to meet your nutritional needs.
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Dietary cholesterol is not harmful as was previously believed. Looking for sweet cookie recipes , the latest fashion trends and inspo , or a way to up your calligraphy game? Inspiration delivered to your inbox Subscribe to our newsletter. Sign Up. Food Recipes. Vegan Avocado Bars.
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Raw Beet Ravioli With Vegan Cashew Cheese These look like they belong out of a Michelin-starred restaurant, but the trick to homemade, raw beet ravioli is simpler than you think. Raw Vegan Coconut Cheesecake Bites These coconut cheesecake bites are decadent, so you can portion control with these little bites. Raw, Vegan Caprese Salad Learn how to make raw cashew-based mozzarella for a simple, diet-compliant Caprese salad.
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Raw Zucchini Roll-Ups Though these green snacks can be consumed solo, they make one righteous party app. Make this when you need pasta stat. Raw Vegan Fruit Cake Think of this raw vegan fruit cake as the most loaded-with-goodness granola bar ever. Creamy Beet Detox Soup Avocado is the secret ingredient to make this soup silky. Black Bottom Raw Cheesecake When your need for chocolate becomes unbearable, try your hand at a silky raw, vegan cheesecake with a decadent chocolate crust.
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Raw Pad Thai This lovely dish can be meal-prepped in mason jars so you can keep up with your raw diet even on busy weekdays. Raw Pecan Sandies Yep, you can even have cookies. Justina Huddleston is a food writer living in Los Angeles. When she's not busy writing, she spends her time in the kitchen creating both virtuous and decidedly junky vegan food. Buffalo chickpea pizza, anyone? She's also been known to eat a plain block of tofu or beans straight out of the can for lunch, but somehow those culinary adventures don't make it to her Instagram.