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The Raw Foods Diet Plan, Health Risks
My 'How to Grow Sprouts' Recipe

Written by Sky Taylor, Diet Bites

Raw Food Diet &  Weight Loss

Thinking about the raw food diet plan for weight loss? Eating nothing but raw foods can indeed take off unwanted weight, but the dieter who goes raw must be willing to put in a little elbow grease to enjoy the diet to the fullest.

If you're into juicing, dehydrating, chopping and coconut milking, you just may be the thing that raw dieters are made of....

Health Benefits & Tips for Natural Foods

Raw foods are generally crunchy and aid in cleaning the teeth and are much better for dental health than sugary, fatty foods. Here are just a few raw food suggestions for healthy weight loss.

- Ditch those fatty regular snacks and replace with a healthy raw fruit or raw vegetable. Apples, bananas, and raw carrots will satisfy hunger with a minimal of calories.

- Rather than beef, garlic bread and tacos for dinner, enjoy a large salad that consists of field greens, chopped apple, a few chopped nuts or hulled sunflower seeds, tomatoes, peppers, shredded carrots, shredded squash, sliced cucumber drizzled with a bit of low fat dressing.

- Incorporate protein food sources with raw foods if you don't want to go totally raw.  Our favorites include peanut butter and apple, omelets filled with raw sliced mushrooms, REAL cheese (not cheese food) with sliced apples and sliced bananas with a wedge of sponge cake.

The Raw Food Diet, Living things thrive on other living things.

One of the key points of the raw diet is that food enzymes found naturally in raw foods are destroyed with heat during the cooking process. The decline of essential enzymes in raw foods occurs at a temperature of 116 degrees.

Another theory of the raw diet is that when heat hits the food, precious vitamins and nutrients escape and create foods that are harder to digest.

When foods are unable to be fully digested, they are a source of sludge to the system.  And who wants a half-digested cheese pizza lingering inside?

These life preserving enzymes are thought to produce the essential elements necessary for complete digestion without the use of the stomach's natural processing of foods.

Controversy Surrounding The Raw Food Diet, Phytochemicals

Although raw foods are widely considered healthier than cooked foods, some contain not-so-healthy phytochemicals which are very easily absorbed by the body. Cooking banishes phytochemicals from some foods, thus making cooked foods a healthier choice for the food that is mined with phytochemicals.

Other health studies indicate that foods that are highest in phytochemicals actually decrease risks of developing certain types of cancer, diabetes, hypertension, heart disease - and diseases triggered by heart disease.

Foods Containing the Highest Phytochemicals

Raw foods that are highest in phytochemicals include fruits that hold a vivid color as well as yellow, orange, red, white, blue, green, purple and even white.

Rich sources include: apricots, apples, berries, broccoli, Bok Choy, Brussels sprouts, celery, carrots, cantaloupe, cabbage, green tea, garlic, pears, Soy nuts, turnips, spinach, tomatoes, lentils, olives, red wine, kale, onions and seeds.

Options of Food Preparation

- Drying

- Roasting

- Juicing

Food dehydrators are a useful tool for the raw dieter because they work effectively at drying out raw foods at a temperature below the 116 degree magic mark. They also alter the taste of the raw food and that helps to keep the diet interesting.

The Basics for the Raw Diet Food Plan

- 75% of the daily diet should comprise of raw (uncooked) foods

- raw foods that are organically grown are highly encouraged

- The following foods help make up the raw food diet plan.

Food List for Raw Food Diet

- Fresh fruits & their juices.

- Fresh vegetables & their juices.

Note: Fruits and vegetables are often juiced.

- Beans & legumes which are often sprouted which is a fun activity! You'll find out how I grow sprouts in this article.

- Sun-dried fruits & vegetables.

- Nuts and seeds.

- Seaweed

- Grains

- Purified water and coconut milk.

Raw Diet & Nutritional Deficiency, Benefits

Health Concerns

Nutritional Elements of the Raw Diet Plan may lead to a vitamin and mineral deficiency. Foods on this plan are low in calcium and low in iron.

Calcium deficiencies impact bone health, blood pressure, heart health and can trigger illnesses and diseases related to low calcium consumption. Low iron can impact everything from the kidneys to the heart [anemia, blood pressure, etc.]

Health Benefits

Daily diet is high in dietary fiber, high in potassium, low in sodium, and low in fat. Dietary fiber supports digestive health. Potassium and sodium are two of the three central electrolytes which balance the fluid within the human body. They assist in regulating many functions such as blood pressure.

Take note however than some individuals may require more sodium intake than is provided by a natural foods plan. In turn, some individuals may have a condition which influences how their body deals with potassium. Excess potassium readings can present a life-threatening situation.

Other than weight loss, the raw dieter can look forward to the following:

- Increased Energy

- Release of Toxins From the Body

- Improved Digestion

- Healthier Skin and Nails

- Reduced Risk of SOME Diseases [in particular some cancer, heart & circulatory disease].

About Caloric Content, Values

Most raw fruits and vegetables are very low in calories - bananas, potatoes, corn and sweet potatoes being a few exceptions to the rule. This plan is so low in calories that it can be difficult to obtain all the nutrients that your body needs on a daily basis.

Most raw food diets advise that fruits and vegetables are not mixed, and should be eaten at different times throughout the day. Dried fruits may be added to the menu and they provide more calories than their plump counterparts.

Facts & Information About Raw Food Diets

Raw foods consist mainly of water and fiber and the dieter must eat very frequently throughout the day.

Due to pesticide concerns, organically grown foods are recommended. If you are planning on pursing an earthy food plan, consider a personal garden.  

These type plans are generally supplemented with vitamins B-12 (Vitamin B-12 is normally garnered from meats), copper, zinc, and chromium. Seek out the benefit of flax seeds for the important Omega 3's in your diet, but limit intake as recommended by your doctor. Too many flax seeds can interfere with the thyroid.

Always meet with your doctor before pursuing your diet plan or weight loss program, particularly when contemplating fad diets such as a Raw Food Diet.

The Natural Diet Plan & Free Natural Raw Foods Menu

With spring in the air, more and more fresh fruits and veggies are arriving at our local markets, allowing a window of opportunity for a healthier body.

Next time you visit your local market look for the following fresh vegetables in the produce section: asparagus, eggplant, mushrooms, radishes, tomatoes, broccoli and sweet potatoes.

Also look for the following fresh fruit selections: papayas, pineapple, strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, guava, mangos, and vast assortments of melons.

If you desire to lose unwanted weight, fresh vegetables and fruits can be your healthy ticket to Weight Loss Success. Try the following meal and note how full you feel at the end of the meal - but do get your doctor's approval beforehand.

Natural Foods for Your Feast

1/2 cup of pinto beans (about 110 calories)
1 cup of asparagus (about 27 calories)
1 cup of eggplant (about 20 calories)
1 cup of white button-type mushrooms (about 21 calories)
1 small sweet potato + 1 pat of margarine (I also like to sweeten mine with a bit of Splenda and add a dash of cinnamon) - about 112 calories
2 cups of your favorite melon (about 100 calories)

To prepare, use drained canned pinto beans that are heated on the stove or microwave. Add a spoon or two of your favorite salsa to add zip and flavor without adding calories and fat.

For the asparagus, mushrooms and eggplant, slice the eggplant into thin strips or chunks. The asparagus and mushrooms can be prepared in their natural state/size.

Cook the asparagus in a little water, then drain thoroughly and transfer to a non-stick pan that has been sprayed with cooking spray; continue cooking until golden brown.

For the eggplant, simply cook on both sides in a non-stick pan sprayed with cooking spray until golden.

You can do the same with the mushrooms, although I like to cook them in a toaster oven until they are golden, then they are transferred to the non-stick skillet where they get a dash of salt and pepper. Prepare the sweet potato in the microwave.

The meal planner above contains about 400 calories and is extremely filling - these natural foods are so low in calories! The factors that change the Weight Loss Equation include: added fat such as butter, frying - which of course makes use of oil, batters, sauces, glazes and dips.

So keep your daily diet as healthy as possible and be rewarded in the form of weight loss as well as a healthier body. The Natural Diet Plan can assist greatly in reducing weight with minimal calories while leaving food in its natural state tasting great!

Although butter tastes lovely at times, try enjoying the earthy flavors of food, and who knows - you just might fall in love all over again.....

How to Grow Sprouts

Sprouts are very easy to grow and make a wonderful, tasty, low calorie to any diet. They are very popular with raw dieters but can be enjoyed by most anyone, but not all.

Take note that one must use care when growing sprouts because they have been associated with serious illnesses and health risks. Some even call sprouts the riskiest food on the planet. Illnesses associated with sprouts include: Listeria, e-Coli, Salmonella. These illnesses can and have lead to death.

The environment and the methods used to grow sprouts encourage bacterial growth. If seeds are not washed multiple times during the day they succumb to foodborne illnesses. Therefore, proceed with caution when growing at home, or when purchasing at the market.

NOTE: This is how I make sprouts but I cannot recommend that you use my method due to health risks. Use this as an example only.

For small seeds, I use a moistened paper towel. I sprinkle seeds on towel and I keep this in a dark place to allow sprouting to ensue. I make certain to keep seeds moist but not soaked and of course, rinsed several times throughout the day to discourage bacterial growth. Water can quickly stagnate.

I begin with a wide-mouth CLEAN quart-sized jar so that my sprouts will have room to grow and be easy to remove. I add a quarter cup of seeds to the bottom of the jar, taking care not to overfill. The seeds just cover the bottom of the jar comfortably.

I add twice as much water to the jar as I did seeds. I place cheesecloth over the top of the jar and secure it with a large rubber band. And I am careful not to get binged by the rubber band. 

I allow the seeds to soak for about 8 to 12 hours, or until seeds are softened. Smaller seeds require the lesser time; larger seeds, the longer time.

I keep draining off all water and carefully rinsing the softened seeds.

After the time has passed, I turn the jar sideways so that the seeds rest along the length of the jar rather than at the bottom. The jar is placed in a dark area that is about 70 degrees in temperature. If I were to place the jar in sunlight it would create a bitter mix of sprouts.

If I fail to rinse the seeds often - every few hours, fermentation would occur and present health risks. I keep rinsing throughout the day until they reach the desired length.

Lentils can also be sprouted in water by soaking for 7-10 hours - depending on the climate. I drain them and also keep them moist by misting with a spray bottle.

Lentils are a great source of raw protein. They may even be enjoyed in their 'lentil' state by soaking to soften before eating, while not yet at the 'sprout' stage.  

Too Much Natural Food

Is your current diet plan keeping you buried six feet under carrots and lettuce? A raw food dieter may choose to feast on carrots, cabbage celery and lettuce because vegetables in their raw state are very low in calories - commonly called 'free foods'. 

Fortunately as we have learned, they also offer a burst of health benefits - as all raw foods tend to deliver.

Keeping that in mind, if you are getting bored and tried of raw foods in your daily diet, these healthy suggestions that are close to raw foods may assist. You will need to cook our second healthy food suggestion:

- Frozen fruit. Takes a long time to eat and can be dipped into a tiny pool of sugar for extra sweetness. They can be enjoyed frozen or heated.

- Frozen veggies: Most contain about 120 calories per bag! Enjoy with fat reduced spreads, fresh herbs and seasonings.

'Licking' Good on Your Diet

When trying to lose weight, one naturally cuts back on food intake. To help get through the weight loss process, it's a good idea to discover foods that are either very low in calories that you can enjoy freely or foods that take a long while to eat so that the enjoyment factor sticks with you.

The best solution is to find foods that are both low in calories and those that also take a long while to eat. Here's our goody list:

- Suckers (orange, red, lime, lemon, grape flavors)

- Frozen pops

- Italian ices

Our favorite is the sucker because it takes a very long time to finish it and it's ultra low in calories and contains zero fat for most versions. And hey - they're cheap, although Raw Food they're not....

Calories in Vegetables

Looking for raw veggies that are ultra low in calories? That's a great thing because raw vegetables in particular are naturally low in calories - and of course, there is that old 'good nutrition' issue. This list is based on vegetables in their raw state.

lettuce - most varieties contain about 10 calories per cup; no wonder why salads are so popular with dieters!

- mushrooms - most varieties contain about 20 calories per 1/2 cup
- carrots - 1 average sized carrot contains about 30 calories
- cabbage - common green cabbage contains about 30 calories per cup
- celery - 1 cup of celery contains about 20 calories

Some Interesting Health & Diet Information on Carrots

Purple Carrots? - Interesting Food Fact: Carrots were originally purple until the Europeans orange-ized them in the early 17th century. A super breed of carrots containing high levels of beta-carotene were developed during World War II and consumed by aviators in an effort to sharpen night vision.  

Wild Things, I Think I Love You

Getting close to Mother Nature for Weight Loss Results

Oh my, Mother Nature has a healthy bounty for the taking - most of which can be found as close at your local food  market. Better yet, wild raw foods can produce wild weight loss results - and that's a good thing......

Let's cut right through the chase to the calorie content of the following raw foods in their natural 'state of delicious'.

Calories in Lettuce

Comparing Calories in Varieties of Lettuce

Butterhead Lettuce - Butterhead lettuce is a member of the sunflower family containing vitamins A, B and C.  Enjoy 2 cups of butterhead lettuce for about 10 calories.

Iceberg Lettuce - Iceberg lettuce is delicious when served by itself or as the star ingredient of a side salad.  Enjoy 2 cups of iceberg lettuce for about 35 calories.

Looseleaf Lettuce - Looseleaf lettuce contains vitamins A, B and C as well as about 8% of the recommended daily allowance for iron. Enjoy 2 cups for about 20 calories.

Romaine Lettuce - Like butterhead lettuce and looseleaf lettuce, romaine lettuce contains vitamins A, B and C as well as about 6% of the recommended daily allowance for iron intake. Romaine lettuce is perceived to be of the oldest variety of cultivated lettuce.

The color green paints almost half our world and tends to lend a peaceful effect.  Green is also one of the most important colors in a healthy diet plan.

Fresh picked green foods tend to be ultra low in calories. Take the following examples...

Based on 1/2 cup unless noted.

Alfalfa Sprouts = 5 calories
Broccoli = 20 calories

Asparagus = 25 calories

Brussels Sprouts = 30

Celery = 10 calories

Parsley = 10 calories

Green Onions = 30 calories

Artichoke Hearts = 45 calories
Cabbage = 15 calories

Green Tomatoes = 20 calories per 3 ounces

Zucchini Squash = 15 calories

Okra = 25 calories

Cucumber contains about 40 calories each

Green Bell Pepper = 15 calories
Chives contain about 1 calorie per Tablespoon

Fruit Calories for Simple Diet

Trying to lose weight?  Try substituting fruits for desserts and see what happens. You'll be thinner, healthier and your body will work more productively to let you be the best that you can be.

Let's list the caloric values of this healthy food group based on their various sizes. We'll begin with the Finger Fruits - those that you can eat easily just using your fingers. Then we'll move on towards the larger specimens, then to the big boys.

After that, we'll examine the data for berries and finish with the dried fruits. Take special notice that the dried versions contain more caloric values than the fresh - or for that matter, the canned and frozen varieties.

Being as close to Mother Nature as possible as well as Father Earth comes with significant benefits in many areas.

Finger Fruits - Smaller Fruits

Cherries: 3 = 5 kcals
Apricots: 3 = 51 kcals
Figs: 3 = 111 kcals
Grapes: 1 cup = 58 kcals
Kiwi = 46 kcals
Lemons = 16 kcals
Lime = 20 kcals
Persimmon = 118 kcals
Plums = 36 kcals
Tangerines = 37 kcals

Larger Fruits - Hand-Held

Based on 1 Medium Specimen Unless Noted & Contains the Skin or Peel

Apple = 80 kcals
Avocado, 1/2 = 162 kcals
Banana = 105 kcals
Grapefruit = 70 kcals
Guava = 46 kcals
Mango = 138 kcals
Nectarine = 67 kcals
Orange = 62 kcals
Peach = 37 kcals
Pear = 98 kcals
Pineapple, 1 cup = 76 kcals
Watermelon, 1 cup = 51 kcals

Calories in Melons

Melons are also good for encouraging water that is trapped in the body - such as occurs during an excess intake of sodium, to release at a quicker rate. Melon is also filling and contains few.

Based on a One Cup Serving Size

Cantaloupe = 56 kcals
Honeydew Melon = 60 kcals
Watermelon = 51 kcals
Casaba Melon = 45 kcals

Calories in Berries

Don't overlook the fresh berry-counterpart! Frozen fruits are also low in, take a long time to eat and are so refreshing on those long summer days.

Based on a One Cup Serving Size

Blackberries, Fresh = 75 kcals
Blueberries, Fresh = 81 kcals
Cranberries = 46 kcals
Raspberries = 60 kcals
Strawberries = 45 kcals

Calories in dried fruits tend to be pricey but a little goes a long way. Toss a few raisins into a salad, or add a few dried peaches to your morning cereal and you'll boost the taste and add nutrition without adding a lot of. Moderation is key.

Keep in mind that the larger the fruit, the more energy values it will contain.

Dried Apples: 10 rings hold 156 kcals.
Dried Apricots: 10 halves = 83 kcals
Currants: 1 cup = 65 kcals
Date: 5 medium = 114 kcals
Dried Figs: 3 medium = 145 kcals
Dried Peach: 5 halves = 155 kcals
Dried Pear: 5 halves = 229 kcals
Prunes: 5 medium = 100 kcals
Golden Raisins, Dark Seedless Raisins: 1/2 cup = 219 kcals

In Summary

Opting for foods that are closest to their natural state equals foods containing lower calories and fat grams than their prepared counterparts. Wild things offer crazy love to produce really rad weight loss results.


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