Cooking can strip beneficial nutrients from your diet: vitamin C and folate are destroyed by heat and sulforaphanes, the cancer-fighting compounds in broccoli, are reduced significantly in cooking.
Heating food above 104º F / 40º C (some say 118º F – 48º C) can cause chemical changes creating acidic toxins including some carcinogens and free-radicals which have been linked with diseases such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, arthritis and cancer.
Conversely, raw whole food is vitamin- and mineral-rich, it tends to be low-sodium, low-sugar, low-saturated fat and relatively high in potassium, magnesium, folate, fibre, vitamin A and antioxidants – thought to lower the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.
When and how to crunch up the daily raw factor
Fresh-as-you-can-find-ingredients are the best for nutritional value and flavour. There is a panoply of flavour and texture to choose from.
Replace sugary, fatty or salty snacks with fresh vegetable sticks (carrot, bell pepper, courgette, celery, cucumber) – quick to slice and pop in an airtight box. For elevenses or afternoon tea (swap caffeine for herbal tea), try a handful of mixed raisins, nuts (almonds, cashews), dried fruit and seeds (flax, hemp, sunflower) – create a mix you like and keep a tub-full in your desk, easy.
Raw breakfast: Go fifty-fifty and sprinkle (whole) berries or banana on (cooked) porridge, or mix your own no-added-sugar muesli adding in nuts and dried fruit (with raw milk??), or chop up a mixed fruit salad (apple, strawberries, blueberries) and when you’re running late grab an apple, orange, pear, banana.
Raw lunch: Mixed green salad with fresh herbs and sprouted seeds, grains or legumes (mung beans, lentils, chickpeas) a squirt of lemon or lime juice and a dash of cold-pressed, extra-virgin olive oil. Other tasty additions might include mushrooms, edible flower petals (marigold, nasturtium) and grated raw vegetables such as beetroot or courgette.
Raw dinner: Add a raw element to the meal. Soups and side dishes are probably quickest: vegetable pates, guacamole, hummus, salads or a mix of grated, sliced or whole raw baby vegetables such as broccoli, beans, peas (imagination is the only limit); coleslaw, sliced onion and tomato – though cooked tomatoes in fact contain up to four times more health-inducing lycopene than raw.
Flavourings and spices: raw finely chopped garlic (or rub a cut clove around the salad bowl before you fill it), herbs, and spices such as cumin, cinnamon and cayenne pepper.
Juicing and blending
Both provide high-value, concentrated nutrition and both are good ways to up your five a day. The main difference between the two methods is juicing removes fibre while blending maintains fibre and, also, breaks up the cell walls of fruits or veggies, so the nutrients in your smoothie are easier to digest. Smoothies are more filling and because of their fibre content the sugars – released when fruits and vegetables are blended or juiced – are more slowly absorbed so sugar swings are less of a problem.
Fish and meat
No need to exclude fish and meat. Fish first, because it’s the healthier option: cevice – fresh, raw fish (trout, cod, marinated in lime juice, spices, often chilli, and onion) – is delicious, nutritious, very quick to prepare and requires no more than the ability to use an ordinary kitchen knife; gravadlax (salmon in dill and brandy) tastes great though it is high in sugar; sashimi (very thinly sliced raw fish or shellfish) requires skill, a very sharp, flexible blade and the certainty that your fish is same-day fresh – the traditional Japanese diet is one of the healthiest (and highest in raw ingredients).
For meat eaters the easiest and finest flavoured dishes are, we suggest, carpaccio (thinly sliced raw beef fillet, or choose leaner venison, served with olive oil and lemon or lime juice) and steak tartare (finely chopped beef fillet, shallots, olive oil, cornichons, parsley, egg yolk). Yum.
Bon raw appetit!
Written by Ruth Tongue