In the section of your website answering “What does it mean to be fully raw?” there is some misleading information that I would like to address. One of the first questions that you answer is “are all raw food diets the same?”, to which you answered the following:
“No, there are different approaches for eating a raw diet. Most of them are designed to obtain a high percentage of daily calories from fats, by eating significant amounts of avocado, nuts and seeds. These diets tend to be unsustainable since too much fat, even raw fat, causes health problems and results in the underconsumption of carbohydrates. On the other hand, one cannot eat primarily vegetables as a diet, because they don’t contain enough calories. Therefore, a sustainable raw foods diet draws the great bulk of its daily calories from fruits, which are high in calories…”
First of all, we need fat to survive. It is a critical source of energy and insulates our body. It enables us to absorb fat-soluble nutrients such as Vitamin A, D, E, and K, which are critical for proper development and bodily functioning. Improper absorption of vitamin A that leads to deficiency can result in visual impairment and blindness, as well as increase the risk of severe illness and death from infections such as diarrheal disease. Vitamin D deficiency decreases the absorption of calcium and may lead to brittle bones, increases lethargy, risk of death from cardiovascular disease, and cognitive impairment in older adults (if you are interested, in a comprehensive review of the plethora of benefits of vitamin D, check out this article here!). Further, fat protects our body by providing a cushion around major organs such as the brain and heart. Fat also helps make hormones, such as sex hormones, which ensures the ability of a women to menstruate and become pregnant, and a man to be fertile. On a cellular level, they make up a component of the cell membrane, the wall between the inside of the cell and the outside world. Therefore, fat isn’t just important for life, it is CRUCIAL!
Raw sources of fat are great sources! Avocados are high in monounsaturated fat, which actually lowers LDL cholesterol, and decreases risk for heart disease! While some raw foodies believe that cold-pressed olive oil should not be consumed, it may be considered a “raw” food and is also high in monounsaturated fat, lowering LDL cholesterol. Olive oil may also reduce risk of certain cancer. In one study, oleocanthal, a phenolic compound found in olive oil, induced cell death in all cancer cells examined as fast as 30 minutes after treatment!
Finally, raw nuts are a great source of fat! Almonds contain vitamin E, which is important for growth and development, especially in young children. Walnuts have high levels of omega-3 fatty acids, which as I discussed in a previous post, is important for heart and brain health. So even if one is vegan and doesn’t consume animal fats, there are still many benefits from vegan fats and they should not be avoided!
The second point that I disagree with is Kristina’s commentary to consume mostly fruit. First of all fruit is very high in fructose, which is digested differently than glucose in our bodies. Fructose is mainly processed in the liver, not stored in glycogen in the muscles. AGAIN, only liver cells break down fructose, so once we consume too much for our livers to metabolize, lipogenesis occurs. Lipogenesis is the production of fat in our bodies. In one study observing glucose and fructose consumption, those who consumed higher levels of fructose had higher levels of triglycerides, low HDL, and LDL particle size was smaller. High levels of triglycerides and low HDL are risk factors for heart disease. Further, people whose LDL particles are predominantly small and dense, have a threefold greater risk of coronary heart disease. So eating fat does not necessarily cause us to become fat, it may be eating fructose, even if it is coming from whole food sources! In excess, it can lead to fat production.
Lastly, fruit is not a calorically dense food!! The average adult should consume 1,800- 2,400 calories a day depending on gender and activity level. On a raw food diet this means consuming 30 bananas a day! And while most raw foodies do this, I certainly would not feel satisfied or be happy eating only 30 bananas a day. Nor would I be getting enough or all of the important nutrients my body needs to sustain life (such as fat)!
That is all I have for this post, but next week I will be addressing some other points that I contest on Kristina’s page and why I feel that a raw food diet should be avoided. Have a good week!