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Thinking of going on a (partially) raw food diet? Just curious what a raw food diet is, and why people decide to stay away from cooked meals? Read on to find out more about the basics of raw food.

Tempted to go on a raw food diet? Adding more fresh produce, nuts and seeds to your diet can give your health a real boost. Though some people go 100 percent raw, you don't have to if you want to enjoy some of the benefits of this diet.

What's Raw Food?

A raw food diet is just what the name suggests — a diet made up of raw food. The basic idea is that cooking foods reduces their nutritional value and destroys beneficial enzymes. Some raw food advocates even say that cooking foods makes them toxic, and they believe that a strict raw food diet can cure many ailments, like allergies, headaches, diabetes, and bloating. Eating a raw food diet for a while might help you "detox", and you could lose a good deal of weight. 

What exactly does raw mean, you might ask? Some raw foodists go by the principle that it is perfectly acceptable to gently heat food, as long as it doesn't reach a temperature of 115 degrees Fahrenheit (that's about 46 degrees Celsius) or above. This is the temperature at which vitamins and minerals would start to leave the produce, they say. 

What Can You Eat On A Raw Food Diet?

Many raw foodists are also vegans, in which case they might refer to themselves as "raw food vegans". Vegans don't eat anything that originated from animals — so meat, fish, eggs, dairy products and honey are out completely, whether they are raw or not. Non-vegans following a raw food diet might enjoy sushi and white cheese which were made without cooking. These are often available from farmers' markets, but it is also possible to make them yourself. In that case, you'd want to use raw milk. 

Whether the raw food dieter is a vegan or not, their diet will consist mainly of vegetables, fruits, seeds, nuts and grains. Processed food is almost completely out for those who are 100 percent raw. It's not just that processed foods usually involve some cooking, but also that they have often been preserved in some way and aren't entirely fresh. This, too, is said to reduce the nutrient content of the food. 

Sounds limiting, doesn't it? Actually, you might be surprised at the enormous choice you have when you are on a raw food diet. 

The key might be to stop thinking about all the foods you can't eat when you are on a raw food diet, and to start thinking about all the tasty things you could try out. Think things like dates wrapped in green lettuce, home-made fruit juices, large portabella mushrooms stuffed with rocket and sunflower seeds, cold soups, guacamole, zucchini "spaghetti", kale and cabbage salads, fruit pates, walnut spread, and all kinds of crackers made with exclusively raw ingredients. The raw food dieter doesn't have to resign themselves to a boring diet at all. Once you decide to go raw, a whole new world opens up — and you're bound to have a more varied diet than ever before! 

Juicers, blenders, and dehydrators will become your friends if you like the raw food lifestyle. Don't think for one moment that you'll be stuck with salads all the time. 
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