Food & Diet

6 Foods That Are Healthier When Eaten Raw

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One of the first things we do when we embark on the healthy living journey is to look up healthy recipes that we can incorporate into our daily lives with ease. But have you ever stopped to think that maybe some of the foods we eat are better left raw and totally unprocessed? Read on for 6 foods that are way healthier when eaten raw.

1. JUICE

Most boxed fruit juices are pasteurized. To pasteurize means to subject food to high enough temperatures to kill any pathogenic microorganisms. This technically means that pasteurized food is cooked food. Cooking otherwise completely edible fruit juices breaks down a lot of vitamins and minerals making them essentially useless to the human body. The healthy enzymes from natural fruit juices undergo protein denaturation when they are heated. This renders them useless or ineffective.

It is so cheap and easy to make your own juice at home, especially if you live in an area where fruit is abundant. The next time you feel tempted to go the easy way and reach for that boxed stuff on the grocery isle, think about how much your body will enjoy freshly squeezed unpasteurized juice and opt to squeeze your own juice instead.

2. COCONUT

Coconut is not referred to as “The Tree of Life” in its native Philippines for nothing. Nothing from a coconut is thrown away. Everything can be turned into food, decorative pieces or even kitchen utensils. The fruit itself is a nutritional powerhouse. Coconut water provides much needed electrolytes without having the high sugar and caffeine content most sports drinks have.

Most applications of coconut require for it to be cooked or processed somehow, but did you know that when it comes to coconut, raw is undeniably better? You may use raw coconut milk in refreshing coolers, or snack on the flesh of soft young coconut and drink coconut water just like you would regular H2O. Or better yet try this tropical secret: make a cocktail out of rum and coconut water, pour over ice and enjoy.

3. CHOCOLATE

The modern version of “chocolate” has a bad rap for a reason. Loaded with saturated fat and sugar, and with the normally heart-healthy chocolate processed beyond recognition, our chocolate snack bars of today are of no match to the kind of chocolate Mayans used to use as medicine.  That’s right, chocolate used as medicine!

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In ancient cultures, chocolate was used to cure a number of ailments, such as an upset stomach, or was used to deliver other types of herbal medicine (since chocolate tasted so much better than roots!). Cacao flowers were used to treat fatigue and a combination of cocoa beans, maize and herbs was used to alleviate fever symptoms. This comes as no surprise because chocolate, in its purest form, is highly nutritious. Cocoa beans can reduce the risk of heart disease by working a lot like aspirin. Bitter chocolate has been found to decrease the chances of platelets clumping together. So next time when you’re tempted to snack on a chocolate covered candy bar, opt for the healthier option—cocoa nibs!

4. FERMENTED VEGETABLES

Fermented vegetables don’t taste all that great, and don’t smell all that great either. Yet this age-old technique of preserving vegetables is a great way to transform your veggies without having to cook them. Cooking vegetables can sometimes destroy the nutrients that are in them. High temperatures can destroy healthy enzymes, vitamin C as well as some B-vitamins. While fat soluble vitamins, like vitamin A and vitamin E, are typically more resilient to heat, the high temperatures produced by frying can still destroy vitamin E.

Fermenting vegetables makes the veggies easier to digest, increasing bioavailability of a lot of nutrients. Fermented food, such as kimchi, is great for our intestinal flora the same way fermented cream or yogurt is, by introducing probiotics to our digestive systems. This is especially important as you age when the probiotics in your belly begin to decrease in number.

5. BROCCOLI 

Broccoli is a super food masquerading as an ordinary vegetable citizen. Rich in phytochemical sulforaphane and its precursor glucoraphanin, a diet rich in this cruciferous vegetable may decrease the risk for cancer and even arthritis. The sulforaphane in broccoli has been proven to kill cancer stem cells, striking the disease at its root cause. Sulforaphane’s precursor, glucoraphanin, acts as an anti-oxidant by protecting cells from the oxidative effects of cancer-causing free radicals.

These compounds, sulforaphane and glucoraphanin are found in larger quantities in broccoli sprouts. If you can’t find sprouts in the store, you can help preserve these compounds by eating your broccoli raw.

6. GARLIC AND ONIONS

Garlic and onions are known for their anti-inflammatory properties, but did you know that they might lose these properties just a few minutes after hitting the pan? Both garlic and onion contain the compound allicin. This compound functions to protect our DNA from oxidative stress, the kind of oxidative stress that could cause our DNA to mutate and produce faulty compounds that lead to cancer.

You can still get a decent amount of allicin from cooked garlic and onions but the reduced amounts of the compound will mean that you will have to eat more.

The next time you reach for the sauté pan, think again! Maybe the food you’re about to cook is better the way it is—crisp, fresh and completely raw.

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