According to Health Canada, 'a healthy diet rich in a variety of vegetables and fruit may help reduce the risk of some cancer. Eating lots of vegetables and fruit regularly may also lower your risk for heart disease.' However, cooking vegetables and fruit destroys or impairs many vitamins. Enzymes needed for digestion are also destroyed. Subjecting our food to temperatures above 118 degrees Fahrenheit prevents us from obtaining maximum nutrition.
A high raw food diet (70% of daily intake), has been associated with increased weight loss and the reversal of type II diabetes. A raw food diet is also a tool used by many celebrities to naturally maintain a youthful appearance.
No, not all vegetables and fruits (also nuts, seeds and legumes), should be eaten raw. It is best to research the particular item or consult with a professional.
Most traditional methods of preparing meals use heat to break down foods in order to combine flavours and create desired textures. The preparation of raw food meals however, relies mostly on slicing, blending, marinating, soaking (sprouting) and dehydrating food to obtain the desired texture and effect. The preparation of raw food retains enzymes required for digestion and prevents the destruction and alteration of many essential vitamins and minerals. It is estimated that the overall nutrient destruction caused by heat is as high as 80%.
Some foodstuffs are called 'living' although they are not in their original raw form. These are fermented foods such as tamari and miso. They contain probiotics that our bodies depend on. Heating living foods however, destroys this 'good bacteria'. Thus, 'living' foodstuffs which have not been exposed to heat are considered 'raw'.
Phytic acid and enzyme inhibitors are present in many dried nuts and seeds. Phytic acid has a strong binding affinity to calcium, magnesium and zinc. When phytic acid binds to these minerals they become insoluble and are not absorbed by our intestines. Nutrient absorption is further impaired by the presence of enzyme inhibitors. These substances are naturally occurring in nuts and seeds, preventing them from sprouting prematurely. However, they impair our ability to digest foods.
The solution to this is to soak (germinate) and rinse some varieties of nuts and seeds prior to consumption. Soaking not only removes toxic substances but initiates the production of beneficial digestive enzymes.
When a seed begins to sprout, a number of chemical changes occur; carbohydrates convert to simple sugars, complex proteins break down into individual amino acids, and fats change to fatty acids. These compounds are easily digested by the human body.
Dried legumes such as mung beans and alfalfa also require sprouting if they are to be edible without cooking them. Like some nuts and seeds, they contain anti-nutrients (phytic acid and enzyme inhibitors) which should be removed.