Raw foods are packed with living enzymes necessary to facilitate the digestion and assimilation of the nutrients in foods. Cooking kills all enzymes, as well as most vitamins, and alters the minerals and proteins in such a way that they are less usable to the body. Because the cooked food is not accompanied by the enzymes necessary for digestion, it places more of a strain on our digestive system and many of the nutrients that are left after cooking are lost in this process. Raw foods are also the most nutritionally dense, because all of the original vitamins, minerals, proteins, fats and fiber are in their unaltered forms and completely available to our bodies.
In many cases, raw food offers up to three times the nutrition of the same cooked. An exception to this would be eggs. Eggs contain certain amounts of constituent nutrients, which remain virtually the same regardless of how you cook them. Whether boiled, poached or scrambled without added ingredients, eggs have essentially the same nutritional value.
As Chef Shane Kelly says, “Eat outside the box! Because in most cases, eating the box would probably be better for you!” Natural food is “real food” and doesn’t include artificial ingredients or additives. Real food has many more enzymes, vitamins, minerals, fiber, etc., useful to your body, than processed food. Natural food doesn’t have to be organic, but since pesticides, residues, antibiotics, and hormones can linger on or in food, foods grown or produced with the benefit of these things might not really be “natural food” any longer. Real food is food that has not been processed: canned; boxed; bagged, etc.
The key to moving toward a more real food diet, is to avoid the middle of the grocery store! Most of the food found in the center of the grocery store has been manipulated and processed to increase the self-life of the product, by adding salt and other preservatives. For this challenge, “real food” can include some foods that are frozen or refrigerated. Examples: salad dressing, (meaning it’s “more real” than dressing on the shelf; frozen fruits; frozen vegetables. Key question: Can it spoil? If yes, it’s real.