Raw food diet promotes healthy living

There are a number of diets many participate in to achieve a healthier lifestyle, and raw food dieting is one of them.

A raw foodist is a person who follows a raw food diet, preparing many organic and unprocessed foods through blenders, juicing and dehydration and fermentation.

“[A] raw foodist believes that cooking food will deplete its nutrients, so they won’t do anything to alter it,” said Brian Ringpfiel, Florida A&M’s nutrition educator. “They want to take in foods in their most raw form.”

A raw food diet is not necessarily about losing weight. It can also be about living a healthier and holistic lifestyle.

According to Jonathan Manning, produce manager at New Leaf market, non-organic items lose nutritional value when cooked.

“Non-organic items, when cooked, often lose a lot of their chemical characteristics, and it mitigates the artificial chemical levels in the food,” Manning said. “When not cooked, those items still have the full spectrum of chemicals that were sprayed during development.”

Although some nutrients do not respond well to heat, Ringpfiel said cooking other foods such as tomatoes helps break down some of the structure so that it can become more digestible.

With any new change in meal plan, as Ringpfiel calls it, a person will have to compensate for certain foods lost in the new diet. Meat is a major source of Vitamin B. However, Ringpfiel advises not to eat raw meat.

“B vitamins are associated with the energy-producing muscle tissue,” Ringpfiel said. “If you’re not eating raw meat, which I highly recommend you not to do, then you’re going to have to do something about replacing what you’ve just taken away. This can build up deficiencies, causing long-term health problems.”

Ringpfiel insists on “doing your homework” and getting adequate amounts of information about diets before putting them into a daily routine.

“There are very healthy ways to set up a new meal plan as long as you are thorough and are not missing any nutrients,” Ringpfiel said.

Students such as Bo’Derek Walker, a senior business administration student from Miami, are interested in trying the raw food diet.

“I think it’s a healthy and important decision to make, and if people try it at least once they may like it,” Walker said. “I really want to try a raw food diet because I’m trying to eat healthier and get in better shape.”

Eating raw vegetables helps lower cholesterol and reduce the risk of many types of cancer, including gastric, oral and bladder, according to WebMD.

However, maintaining a raw food diet can be time-consuming and expensive. The knowledge and variety of fresh food from local farms and organic markets like New Leaf Market & Deli, Publix and Earth Fare can make it easier to transition into a raw foodist.

“Almost all of our produce are organic,” said Charles Vilardebo, New Leaf Market floor manager. “Some of the produce is from local farmers that are grown organically but are not certified organic.”

When shopping for greens, Manning suggests smelling the band or tie that surrounds the greens, which is the part that will rot first or leave a “wet dog” smell.

“Odor is very important in selection,” Manning said.

He also suggests storing greens and other refrigerated cold items in a plastic bag with a paper towel inside it to absorb moisture. Removing the paper towel when it gets completely soaked and replacing it will add shelf life.

Potatoes, tomatoes, onions and garlic should not be refrigerated because it will change the items’ chemical composition.

“It will lose both nutrients and flavor,” Manning said.