Gwyneth Paltrow and Demi Moore may love this raw vegan diet, but is it right for you?
Vegetarianism and veganism are growing in popularity, but the latest fad has people eating only raw plant foods that can be eaten without cooking. Some don’t even eat foods that have been processed or altered from their natural state, such as oats or almond milk.
Fans of raw vegan diets claim that cooking vegetables leads to a loss of nutrients and enzymes and believe the diet will prevent or reverse disease, boost energy levels and improve overall health – but an expert warns that this Diet trend could actually cause more harm than good if followed. for a long period of time.
“While following a plant-based diet can have many health benefits, the raw vegan diet can potentially go a bit too far and can carry even greater risks if not followed carefully,” said said Dr Laura Brown, a registered nutritionist and lecturer in nutrition, food and health sciences at the University of Teesside, said.
Research shows that some raw foods may be healthier than when cooked, such as Brussels sprouts and red cabbage, but Dr Brown wrote on The Conversation that some vegetables have higher nutritional content when cooked. cooked as their cell walls are broken down and nutrients are released. . Cooked vegetables can also give the body more antioxidants.
For example, cooked spinach helps the body absorb calcium. Vegetables like asparagus, mushrooms, carrots, broccoli, kale and cauliflower also contain more nutrients when cooked, she said.
People who adhere to a raw vegan diet may also be lacking in vitamins and minerals – such as vitamin D, vitamin B12, zinc and iron – that come from eating meat and eggs, Dr. Brown. These vitamins support a healthy immune system and play a role in the structure, development and production of brain and nerve cells.
Vitamin B12 levels are the biggest concern. A 2005 study showed that 38% of participants who followed long-term consumption of raw food diets were deficient in vitamin B12. Due to this deficiency, raw vegan diets also increased homocysteine – an amino acid broken down by B12. High levels of homocysteine can lead to a higher risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke.
“If you’re considering following a raw vegan diet, it’s important to plan carefully to make sure you’re getting all the nutrients you need for optimal health,” Dr. Brown says. “I also wouldn’t recommend following it for a long time because of the many risks it can carry.”