"Raw food is vegan and organic food in its natural living state, uncooked and unprocessed," Indianapolis-based raw food chef Abby McFee said in a 2012 lecture. "Essentially it's vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds."
Staples of the diet include seaweed, sprouted grains and seeds, whole grains, beans, dried fruit and nuts. While dehydrating food is permissible in the raw food diet, food and beverages can not be heated higher than 115 degrees Fahrenheit. Anything higher, raw food advocates believe, destroys the enzymes and vitamins in the food.
A study by the Institute of Nutritional Science at University of Giessen in Gremany found that people who followed a long-term strict raw food diet showed normal vitamin A and beta-carotene levels, but showed low lycopene levels.
A study by the German Institute of Human Nutrition concluded that a strict raw food diet lowers total cholesterol and the level of triglycerides, but also lowers HDL "good" cholesterol and the level of vitamin B-12.
A second study by Univeristy of Giessen's Institute of Nutritional Science examined the role of the raw food diet in weight loss and menstruation--or more accurately, lack thereof.
"The consumption of a raw food diet is associated with a high loss of body weight," the study concluded. "Since many raw food dieters exhibited underweight and amenorrhea, a very strict raw food diet cannot be recommended on a long-term basis."
A 1985 study featured in Southern Medical Journal examined the effect of a raw food diet on hypertension and obesity in adults. The study reported that the average weight loss was nearly 4 kilograms, while the average diastolic reduction (the lower number in blood pressure) was 17.8 Hg. In addition, 80 percent of the study participants who smoked or drank alcohol quit.
McFee recommended that those adhering to a raw food diet use nutritional yeast as a source of vitamin B-12. According to HealthAliciousNess.com, lycopene-containing foods include "tomatoes, guavas, watermelon, grapefruit, dried parsley and basil, persimmons, asparagus, liver, chili powder and red cabbage."
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