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By Nancy Brown


Introduction to the Living and Raw Foods Diet

What are Living and Raw Foods?

What are the Parameters of a Raw Foodist Diet?

Subdivisions of Raw Foods Diets

What do Raw Foodists Believe?

Are Vitamins and Minerals Totally Destroyed by Cooking?







Introduction to the living and raw foods diet

Raw and living foods are foods that contain enzymes and have not been heated or cooked in any manner. Raw foodists, or people whose diets consist of at least seventy-five percent raw and living foods, believe in eating an uncooked, unheated, unprocessed and organic plant based diet ( Raw foodists hold that the act of cooking food destroys the majority of vitamins, minerals and essential enzymes naturally found in food. These believers also claim that cooking food renders it toxic and is the major cause of health problems (Andrukitas, 1998). The intensity of beliefs held by raw foodists vary with each individual, yet they all support the ideology that cooking is an unnatural process that destroys important and vital nutrients in foods.



 What are Living and Raw Foods?

Living and raw foods are foods that are organic and have not been heated, cooked, or processed in any way. Living and raw foods are foods that are rich in nutrients, vitamins and enzymes. Such enzymes aid the body in the digestion and absorption processes ( The difference between living and raw foods is distinguished by the fact that living foods have a higher enzyme content than raw foods. This is true because the enzymes in raw foods are dormant. To activate the enzymes in raw foods, raw foodists simply soak peanuts for example, in water for a period of time until sprouting occurs and the enzymes in the raw food are awakened or brought to life. (



 What are the Parameters of a Raw Foodist Diet?

Raw foodists eat all fruits, vegetables, sprouts, nuts seeds, grains, sea vegetable and many other organic products that have not been processed. It is important to note that raw and living foods constitute a raw foodistís diet only if they are grown and produced organically. Processed foods are grown using pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers that raw foodists believe are harmful to the body. They therefore make it policy to eat food grown without any of these harmful chemicals (http// In addition, raw foodists drink purified water and only organic products such as freshly made juices (made with oneís own juicer and consumed immediately) and coconut milk directly from the coconut.



 Subdivisions of Raw Food Diets

There are many subdivisions of the raw foods diet. Some of the types of raw food diets are incredibly restricting while others are more varied.


For more information on the specific categories of a raw food diet visit the aforementioned web site.



 What do Raw Foodists Believe?

 Raw foodists believe that eating a diet that consists predominantly of raw and living foods improves oneís physical and mental health (

Since no cooking is involved in this diet one saves electricity and thus helps to conserve natural resources. In addition, because no animal products are involved in a raw foods diet, no animals are harmed which supports the animal rights movement. One of the most important claims made by raw foodists is that all cooked food is devoid of enzymes and that cooking food alters the molecular structure of food making it toxic (


The owner of a raw food restaurant in San Francisco explains the process of nutrient loss: "Foods start losing some enzymes and life energy at 105 degrees. By 118 degrees, thatís it. Youíve killed all the enzymes, the life energy"(Knickmeyer, 1998). Another raw foodist, T.C. Fry, explains the phenomena in his article "Is cooked food good for us?" He emphasizes that the cooking process readily destroys vitamins. In addition, he says, "Minerals quickly lose their organic context and are returned to their native state as their occur in soil, sea water and rocks, metals and so on. In such a state they are unusable and the body often shunts them aside where they may combine with saturated fat and cholesterol in the circulatory system, thus clogging it up with cement-like plaque" ( These claims are quite disturbing and thus it is important to investigate the extent to which mineral and vitamins are altered during the cooking processes.



 Are Vitamins and Mineral Totally Destroyed by Cooking?

 The results from a number of studies suggest that vitamins and minerals are indeed lost when something is cooked. However, the claim that all nutrients are lost is a very extreme statement. In a study completed by Mieko Kimura and Yoshinori Itokawa, various foods were analyzed for their mineral content before and after the food was cooked. The cooking losses of the minerals sodium, potassium, phosphorus, calcium, magnesium, iron, zinc, manganese, and copper were examined.


The researchers concluded that the mineral content in mass cooking was approximately 60-70 percent of the minerals in raw or uncooked foods. Vegetables, when compared with other foods, lost a noticeably higher amount of vitamins. When different cooking methods were compared for vitamin loss, squeezing after boiling and soaking a thin slice in water lost the most vitamins, preceeded by parching frying and stewing (Kimura, 1990).


In an additional experiment performed by D. Rumm-Kreuter and I. Demmel, vitamin losses through the cooking process were measured and compared. The degrees to which vitamins are lost through the cooking process are attributable to many factors. The type of food, variety of vegetables, method of cutting, preparation, duration and method of cooking all have an influence on the amount of vitamins lost. In addition, the extent to which vitamins are lost was also attributable to the vitaminís sensitivity to things like water, oxygen, light, and temperature. When comparing cooking methods, the researcher found that steaming was the most successful method of retaining the vitamin content of food. Stir-frying and pressure cooking also proved to be good methods of cooking (Rumm-Kreuter, 1990)




 The art of cooking food does have the ability to alter the vitamin, mineral, and enzyme content in food. The extent to which these vital nutrients are lost during the cooking process is dependent on numerous factors. It is my conclusion that the Raw Foodist diet and their claims hold many truths, yet some of their statements are somewhat extreme because cooking does not necessarily kill all the nutrients in food. It is apparent from the research that various proportions of the nutrient content in food are lost depending on several aforementioned factors. The raw foodist way of life is very different from the diet of the majority of people in the world yet it is interesting that their diet is much like the hunters and gatherers of primitive societies. In essence the raw foodist have adopted the diet that sustained our species long before the world was as it is today.






Andrukitas, J. (1998). "Raw Courage." Restaurant Hospitality, 82,26-27.


Itokawa, Y. and Kimura, M. (1990). "Cooking Losses of Minerals in Foods and Its Nutritional Significance. "Journal of Nutritional Science and Vitaminology, 36, S25-S31.


Knickmeyer, E. (1998). "Potholder an Enemy to These Vegetarians; Nutrition: Group gathers to rejoice in the healthful benefits of raw food and the hoped-for demise of cooking." The Los Angeles Times, 10-12.


Fry, T.C. (1998) "Is cooked food good for us?" (


Rumm-Kreuter, D. and Demmel, I. (1990). "Comparison of Vitamin Losses in Vegetables Due to Various Cooking Methods." Journal of Nurtritional Science and Vitaminology 36, S7-S15.


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