Eating Raw Foods: a Measure of Health?

Food and nutrition

Published on 1 August 2018
by Isabelle Huot

Is eating living foods, or avoiding all foods that have been heated over 40 °C, better for you? According to raw food advocates, cooking destroys the natural enzymes in fruits and vegetables. Without these enzymes, our bodies must work harder to digest food, which is hard on the system.

However, this theory does not take into account the fact that the high acidity of the stomach destroys food enzymes. It’s important to remember that our body is also completely self-sufficient and produces the enzymes it needs to function all on its own. The enzymes found in fruits and vegetables help them grow, but are relatively useless to our digestion.

Raw food advocates believe that cooking food destroys its vitamins. They aren’t completely off the mark: vitamins B and C are particularly vulnerable to heat. However, some antioxidants, such as lycopene and beta carotene (found mainly in tomatoes and carrots), are released in the cooking process. Cooking also improves the digestibility of many foods and kills most pathogenic bacteria.

It is best to include both raw and cooked foods in our diets to enjoy the benefits each has to offer. To preserve the maximum level of vitamins, avoid boiling vegetables in a large amount of water and opt for shorter cooking times.

Isabelle Huot
Doctor in nutrition