Photo courtesy of World Harmony

A raw food diet, when done properly, may have health benefits according to recent research. Eating only raw, unprocessed foods isn’t meant to be a weight-loss diet, although weight loss may occur, but a choice you can make as part of a healthier lifestyle. Before you embark on a raw food diet, you must plan and prepare ahead of time so you get the proper nutrition. If you don`t eat the right combination of raw foods, you may end up malnourished.

Seaweed

Seaweed, such as kelp, is a popular part of a raw food diet. Seaweed contains high amounts of iron, B-group vitamins, calcium and magnesium. Different types of seaweed are available for raw consumption, so you may need to sample different varieties to find the one you enjoy the most.

Sprouts

Sprouts are tender plants that come in various varieties and flavors. The most well known sprouts are bean and alfalfa, but other types are available. You can find onion, garlic, lentil, broccoli and radish sprouts at some food outlets, as well as clover, pea shoot, sunflower and soybean sprouts.

Nutritional content varies by sprout type. For example, soy sprouts are very high in protein, mirroring that found in eggs but without the cholesterol.. Pea sprouts have high amounts of phosphorous, while radish sprouts have more vitamin A than a fully-grown radish.

When selecting sprouts, you`ll need to review your dietary needs and select sprout types that fill a potential nutritional void. Sprouts also add texture and flavor to raw food meals, so experiment with different combinations to spice up your diet.

Beans

Beans are a great source of protein and other vitamins, but you must be careful when adding the legumes to your raw food diet. Not all beans can be eaten raw safely. For example, you shouldn’t eat raw kidney beans. The beans contain PHA, which can damage the lining of the stomach in certain quantities. Cooking kidney beans reduces the PHA levels, making the beans safe for consumption.

Generally speaking, you should only consume adzuki beans, chickpeas and lentils raw. You still must soak the beans overnight in a pot of water, and sprout for several days  to make the legumes easier to eat and digest.

Fruits

Your fruit selection should reflect your dietary needs. If you feel you`re going to need more vitamin C, for example, plan to make citrus fruits part of your raw food diet. Some fruits contain high amounts of natural sugars, including dates, so you may need to add those fruits in moderation.

Many raw dieters dry their own fruit to avoid unnecessary chemical additions, such as food additives. Most fruits, including apples, mangoes, berries and pears, can be dried to provide a nutritious snack. You can also use a food dehydrator on vegetables to make different types of snacks and give your vegetables some crunch.

Do not cook any foods while on a raw food diet. The essential belief behind this type of diet is that cooking and processing food reduces natural health benefits and advantages.

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