The Ideal Raw Food to Cooked Food Ratio

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The vast majority of people eat cooked food most of the time—which is not a bad thing—but for a well balanced diet, a proper amount of raw food is necessary, too.

Eating cooked food gives you a readily available source of energy and helps make digestion easy. Cooking also makes nutrients from the food you eat more easily absorbed.

On the other hand, your body needs fiber, too. Fiber assists in cleansing the body and eliminating harmful toxins in the digestive tract. As it happens, most fiber-rich foods, such as fruits and vegetables, are best consumed raw.

So how much raw food do we need to consume? And how much should be eaten cooked?

This has been a matter of much debate in recent years, especially as raw food diets have become popular. Adherents of such diets say at least 50% and as much as 75%~85% of all food consumed should be raw fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, sprouted seeds and grains, dried fruit and juices, rolled or flaked grains, herbs and spices.

Although many raw foodists are also vegans, there are no prohibitions on eating meat. Followers of the raw regimen may add good quality cooked fish and poultry to the mix. And unlike the Paleo Diet, they may also have cooked grains and legumes, too.

One of the keys to avoiding malnutrition on a raw food diet lies in food variety—“It’s not all broccoli,” as one dieter has said. Adding eggs, oysters and other forms of protein, whether cooked or raw, helps maintain muscles.

Another important factor is food preparation. For example, “raw” does not disallow the natural drying of fruit, vegetables or fish. Dehydrating food at temperatures no higher than 115º~ 118ºF (46º~48ºC) helps preserve it for future use and retains essential enzymes that leach out at higher heat.

Of course, most of the world prefers broiling, baking, roasting, toasting, boiling, stewing, steaming, poaching and frying food for the added flavor that cooking imparts. For that reason, if not others such as cultural factors, the ratio most people will settle on for uncooked vs. cooked food tends to tip away from raw in the direction of 30:70 to 20:80.

And there are science-based arguments for favoring cooked foods as well. For one, many nutritionists insist that exposing food to temperatures of 145º~165ºF (63º~74ºC) is the only way to kill harmful bacteria.

For another, most forms of protein are more efficiently taken in by the body when cooked. Anyone working out and looking to build muscles, needs lots of protein—the kind found in beef, pork and legumes that simply should not be eaten raw.

In a nutshell, the ideal raw to cooked food ratio is not a single number. It will vary from person to person, depending on their daily activities and dietary needs, but it is quite likely that tilting the scale a little more toward the raw side is a health benefit in these modern times of overly processed foods.

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Osi Cavemen

OSI is a great admirer of nature. She loves all the trees, plants and wildlife, even the ugly ones. Her thirst for earth knowledge is relentless.

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