Rah, Rah, Raw Food

The beauty of eating mainly raw fruits, vegetables and legumes is you can turn your oven off for the summer.

The raw food diet is a fad that has been around for years. It emphasizes the benefits of exclusively eating uncooked foods in their natural state. Proponents claim cooking or heating of any kind diminishes most of the vitamins and minerals in food and kills natural enzymes that boost digestion and fight chronic disease. Many raw food aficionados believe this diet helps to clear headaches and allergies and boost the body’s immunity.

Even Kate Middleton, Duchess of Cambridge, has adopted the unusual diet to maintain her fit figure and radiant complexion. Popular raw dishes she enjoys include watermelon salads, gazpacho, tabbouleh and ceviche, a Latin American fish recipe.

This plant-based diet is similar to that of vegans and vegetarians. It consists of fruits, vegetables, sprouts, nuts, seeds, sprouted grains, beans and raw fish. Nutritional perks include an abundance of vitamins, minerals, fiber and antioxidants to reduce the appearance of aging. Some individuals even practice this diet to lose weight, due to the food being naturally low in calories, fat and sodium. The raw food diet is heavy in fruits and vegetables and low in saturated fat and salt and is consequently associated with healthy levels of cholesterol, blood pressure and a reduced risk of heart disease.

Though eating raw food has become popular among celebrities and royalty, it certainly has its drawbacks. Restrictive diets such as this are linked to growth problems from a potential lack of protein and are not recommended for growing children. Those who are pregnant, elderly or sick should avoid this diet due to the risk of foodborne illnesses from uncooked or unpasteurized foods.

In addition to potential health risks, adopting the raw food lifestyle certainly takes a toll on the wallet.

Specialty stores are preferred by raw foodists for their variety of organic, natural food options, yet are oftentimes pricier than a general grocery store. Once the food has been purchased, meal preparation can be quite extensive due to juicing, blending or dehydrating, which requires expensive appliances of up to several hundreds of dollars.

Another challenge faced by those who eat raw is eating out. It can be difficult to enjoy dining in restaurants because raw dishes are not standard fare on most menus. Khepra’s Raw Food Juice Bar, 402 H St., NE, is one of the few raw, organic restaurants in Washington, D.C. Khepra’s specializes in serving fresh salads, entrees, desserts and juices that are packed with vitamins and natural flavors, perfect for vegetarian or raw food customers.

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