The raw food diet: Types, benefits, and risks

A raw food diet involves mainly unprocessed, whole, plant-based, and preferably organic, foods. Three-quarters of the person’s diet should consist of uncooked food.

Raw food dieters believe that eating a high proportion of raw foods makes them healthier.

Some raw foodists are vegan, and they consume no foods of animal origin. Others eat raw meat and raw animal products.

Weight loss is not the main aim of the raw food diet, but it is possible.

This article is part of a series called What are the eight most popular diets today?


[Raw food diet contains uncooked vegetables, fruits and juices]
A vegan raw food diet contains uncooked vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, beans, and juices.

There are four broad types of raw food diets.

Raw vegetarians eat plant-based foods plus eggs and dairy products

Raw vegans eat no animal products at all

Raw omnivores eat both plant-based and animal-based foods

All of these people eat mainly raw food. A raw carnivore eats meat but not cooked meat.

What can I eat?

The following foods are suitable for the raw food diet:

soaked and sprouted beans, grains, and legumes

dried fruits

raw nut butters

fresh fruits and raw vegetables

freshly made fruit and vegetable juices

milk from a young coconut

nut milks

raw nuts and seeds

purified water, but not tap water


sun-dried fruits

green food powder, for example, dried wheatgrass or algae

other organic, natural, or unprocessed foods

fermented foods, such as kimchi and sauerkraut

Depending on the type of diet, a raw food diet may also contain:


fish, for example, sushi or sashimi


milk and dairy products, but these should be non-pasteurized and non-homogenized

Foods to avoid include:

[Olives not always part of raw food diet]
A raw foodist may only eat raw, sun-cooked olives. Many olives have not been prepared this way.

all cooked or processed foods

refined oils

table salt

refined sugars and flour

coffee, tea, and alcohol


Olives are bitter if eaten raw. However, a raw foodist can eat olives if they are raw and sun-cured. Salt preserves most olives, and olives in cans are often cooked.

Different people have different interpretations of the raw food diet and what it means. Some people will eat some cooked food, while others eat none. For some people, it is a way of life. For others, it is simply a dietary choice.

Preparing the food

A raw foodist prepares food in a special way.

The only heating that is allowed is with a dehydrator. This blows hot air through the food. The temperature is never above 116 Fahrenheit, or 46 degrees Celsius. Raw foodists also may also blend and chop up their foods.

Grain and bean seeds are eaten soaked and sprouted rather than whole

Nuts can be soaked, and some fruits are dried

Many fruits and vegetables are juiced or used in smoothies

Sample meals include:

breakfast: fruit with dehydrated seeds

snack: green smoothie

lunch: apple and nut salad

dinner: stuffed Portobello mushrooms

Chocolate chip cookies can be made by grinding cashews and oats in a blender to make a dough, mixing coconut oil, carob, and cocoa powder to make chocolate chips, and then combining the mixtures and freezing for 30 minutes.

Other ingredients that can be used to make cookies include nut butters, coconut flakes, and dates.

[weight loss on the raw food diet]
Cutting out processed food means many new raw food dieters will probably lose weight at first.

They also believe that with a raw food diet, the body is better able to prevent and fight diseases, especially chronic diseases.

Some nutrients, for example, water-soluble vitamins B and C, are reduced or destroyed by cooking, so eating food raw ensures a better supply of these.

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