Friday, October 02, 2009

Ready for Raw Foods?

Q: I've been considering a raw foods diet. Can you discuss the pros and cons? -- Meredith

A: The raw foods diet is exactly what it appears to be - a diet in which you eat only foods that can be consumed raw or after minimal heating. On the plus side is the fact that it provides plenty of fruits, vegetables, seeds and nuts, all of which should be part of any healthy diet. You also get plenty of fiber and no processed food. And, because you don't eat animal foods - meat, fish, or poultry - you avoid the contaminants they may contain. Another advantage: there's little danger that you'll consume too much protein or fat or the wrong kind of fat.
However, I'm not a proponent of the raw foods diet. First of all, when you eat everything raw, you lose much of the best flavor, texture and appearance of food. More importantly, however, is the fact that many of the vitamins and minerals found in vegetables are less bioavailable when you eat these foods raw than when they're cooked. For example, you can get lycopene, the carotenoid pigment that protects against prostate cancer, only from cooked tomatoes, not from raw ones. The carotenoids in carrots are more bioavailable from cooked carrots than they are from raw ones. Read more...

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