‘Raw’ food – what’s all the hype about and is it worth it?
One of the most popular crazes right now is, without a shadow of a doubt, ‘raw food’. Whether it’s just simple dinners such as zucchini noodles, making home-made almond milk instead of the shop-bought rubbish (which contains less than 2% almonds!), or raw desserts (can you really still eat cheesecake without all the refined sugar?!), the choice is yours! But the question is, why is there suddenly all this hype surrounding raw food and, the bigger question, is it worth it?
I was fortunate enough to be bought a raw food cooking lesson for my birthday present by my lovely boyfriend, and it really opened my eyes to the nutritional benefits of eating raw food so I’d love to share with you a bit about what I learnt, including a few of the many health benefits.
What is raw food?
Raw food is food that is unprocessed, unrefined, cold-pressed and never heated above 44 degrees (a process called ‘dehydrating’). Some of the key ingredients in raw food are organic fruit and vegetables, nuts, seeds, gluten-free grains (buckwheat, quinoa), flax meal, apple cider vinegar, cold-pressed and unrefined coconut & olive oil, as well as a huge variety of superfoods (cacao, acai, maca powder). With these ingredients it is possible to make a huge variety of both sweet and savoury dishes – from superfood smoothies, to nut ‘cheeses’, to vegetable ‘pasta’ dishes, to simple salads, to decadent desserts… all of which are gluten-free, dairy-free and refined sugar-free!
What are the health benefits of eating raw?
Our body’s natural state is to be alkaline – 7.3 on the Ph scale. Our bodies need to be in this alkaline state in order to keep our blood cells alive, so we are constantly working to maintain this alkaline state. However, a number of factors can alter the Ph level in our body, including our diet. The majority of foods people eat on a daily basis are acid-forming such as fruit juice, dairy, pasta, processed bread, vegetable oils, soft drinks, biscuits… (the list is endless)!
What’s the problem with this? Well, acidic environments welcome bad/harmful bacteria and fungi to flourish in our bodies, over time leading to disease (including tumor growth, diabetes and liver problems), low energy, ageing and cardiovascular problems. Therefore, it really is important to help our body by keeping it in the most alkaline state as possible, and we can help to do this through the right diet.
What foods are good and bad for this alkaline state?
It is possible to draw a whole acidity scale for foods, but below I will just give you a couple of the most alkaline and most acidic foods from different food categories:
Sweeteners: alkaline = stevia; acidic = white/brown sugar and other artificial sweeteners
Fruits: alkaline = citrus fruits, berries; acidic = fruit juices, dried fruit
I hope I have helped to shed a bit of light on the benefits of eating raw food. Most people are unlikely to change their diet to eat fully raw, as that involves cutting out dairy and meat. But I think what is most important is making a few basic changes – try and eat raw vegetables wherever possible, cut out refined sugars and processed foods, and add a few superfoods into your diet!
if you need any inspiration, check out my raw blueberry cheesecake :)