A balance of raw and cooked foods will optimize digestibility and nutrient content.
Lunch Hour Lesson #33
Do you have the idea that raw food is healthier? Many people do; it is a pretty easy message to sell, that raw food, with all its beneficial enzymes intact, would be better for us.
Also, overly processed food is dead and doesn’t do any good for our bodies. Sometimes our body doesn’t even recognize it as food, which initiates an inflammatory response.
But, as with almost every subject, good advice is more complicated than simply: eat all food raw and never eat cooked or heated food. Some people do do this, but it has not been shown to be the healthiest diet out there. Rather, a healthy diet should prioritize cooking some foods and eating some foods raw.
Balance is key, and so is bioindividuality. Some people do a better job digesting raw vegetables, for example, than others who find the excess fiber in raw vegetables causes gas, bloating, and intestinal discomfort.
Raw food vs. cooked food is really a balance of keeping food in its most “alive” state as possible, while also ensuring it can be digested well. Since we humans have shorter digestive tracts than those animals who only eat plants, we often will get more nutrition out of our vegetables if we cook them first, which basically pre-digests the tough fibers and liberates other vitamins and minerals. Yes, the enzymes are gone, but that’s not all that is important in food.
Fruits and summer vegetables like lettuce, cucumbers, and tomatoes are tender and can be eaten raw to benefit from the enzymes and vitamin C they contain that would be reduced by cooking.
But on the other hand, cooking actually increases tomatoes’ lycopene content significantly! To achieve balance, the goal would be to eat fresh tomatoes when they’re ripe in the summer, and then cook preserved tomatoes in the winter months.
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Some foods are best eaten raw because cooking them doesn’t increase nutrient content or make them more digestible. Milk is one of these foods. Grass-fed raw goat or cow’s milk is a nourishing superfood, especially for children.
Those who consume raw milk are much less likely to suffer from allergies and asthma. It boosts the immune system due to its probiotic and immunoglobulin content. It is also high in conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), an essential fatty acid that is hard to find in other foods, and contains vitamins C, B6, and A.
Besides drinking it, you can sour raw milk into yogurt or kefir which increases the enzyme and probiotic content even further.
It is important to find a clean source of raw milk, which is easy if you live in a state that allows retail sales because those farms are rigorously tested. And according to government statistics, you are at least two thousand times more likely to contract illness from other foods than from raw milk, so it is not an “unsafe food” as many have been led to believe.
Pasteurized and Ultra-Pasteurized milk would be the cooked version of milk, and has become one of the most allergenic foods. The population at large is drinking pasteurized milk less and less, while raw milk sales are increasing. Almost all of the benefits of raw milk I just talked about are absent in pasteurized milk. Unfortunately, most organic milk in stores is ultra-pasteurized, which I really can’t figure out.
Moving on from milk, and besides raw fruits and vegetables, you may want to try making steak tartare, which is raw steak chopped up finely with shallots and capers and Worcestershire sauce and served with a raw egg yolk on top. Super easy to make, nourishing, and believe me, it is delicious! Think of it like sushi, just instead of fish, it’s beef. There are lots of good recipes online.
Make a refreshing raw salad with butter lettuce, avocado cubes, grapefruit sections, and goat cheese. Dress with olive oil, dijon mustard, salt, and pepper to taste. Then, go look up a recipe for steak tartare 🙂 You don’t have to make it, just look it up!
Lunch Hour Lessons with Allison
Watch this week’s Facebook LIVE – Lunch Hour Lesson #33: Raw vs. Cooked Food for Optimal Health. Each week I bring you a topic related to nutrition and health that I think is interesting, and give you a lesson to take with you into your daily life. Watch Live on Facebook, Wednesdays, 12:30pm PST!
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