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Issue 37: Raw Food: How Much is Enough?

Among raw food eaters, there is no question about the benefits of eating raw. What some dispute, however, is the question of how much raw food is enough.  Do you have to eat 100 percent raw to get any benefits or will simply adding some raw food suffice?

These are questions posed among raw foodists or “rawists” and they are ones, quite frankly, they have not come to any consensus on. And we’re not taking any sides on this issue, but are merely offering insight into what some camps are thinking when it comes to how much raw food a person should consume.

To begin with, rawists are those who believe that a person will thrive best on live foods and their energy. Generally speaking, raw foodists will eat a diet of mostly uncooked whole plant foods constituting at least 75 percent of the diet—with some saying that eating 100 percent raw food is the only true “rite of passage” in order to be considered a raw foodist.

At any rate, raw foodists quickly reinforce the fact that they have broken their addiction to cooked foods—a freeing experience that, they say, has given them an increased sense of health and vibrancy. Most will also recommend incorporating a few raw meals per week as a great way of starting this healthy lifestyle. And some will continue on this meal schedule and will only go so far as to eat between 30 to 70 percent raw and the rest cooked food.

And the basis for incorporating raw food is sound. Quite simply, by not cooking some foods, raw foodists believe you have retained the vitamins, minerals, and enzymes in that food. Proteins and fats, too, can be damaged in cooking—which is yet another reason for eating raw.

How the food is grown is another consideration. Many raw foodists advocate eating an organic raw food diet as opposed to raw conventional foods. Their premise is that it doesn’t do you a whole lot of good to eat raw food for the vitamin, mineral, and enzyme content if the food has been raised with chemicals.

So, what is the answer? How much raw food is enough? That’s difficult to say, but some thoughts from Joel Fuhrman, M.D., a board certified family physician who advocates a high raw plant-based diet, may help.

In an interview with, Fuhrman is asked his thoughts on eating a 100 percent raw vegan diet. Fuhrman responds, “A 100% raw vegan diet is unnecessary for excellent health. Obviously, raw foods are an important part of an optimal diet. Any diet that doesn’t contain a significant proportion of raw plant foods isn’t an optimal diet.”

Fuhrman continues with additional information supporting the idea that nutrition is sometimes lost through excessive heating: “Many vitamins are heat sensitive. Twenty to 60 percent of Vitamin C is lost with cooking and 20 to 40 percent of minerals are lost in many cooking methods.” Then he brings it home: “We’re in agreement that we should strive to eat a diet with lots of raw food, but we don’t want to go so far to think that some cooked food in the diet is poisoning us.”

Raw movement leaders, David Wolfe and his business partner Thor Bazler, say that raw food is an opportunity for everyone to introduce more healthful living into their diets and lives. “Every single medical journal says eat more fruits and vegetables,” Bazler said. Wolfe adds jokingly, “You never hear eat more cheesecake.”

Enough said.


This information is intended for educational and informational purposes only. It should not be used in place of an individual consultation or examination or replace the advice of your health care professional and should not be relied upon to determine diagnosis or course of treatment.

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