10 Best Raw Foods to Add to Your Diet Today
You don’t have to adopt a completely raw diet to see the benefits from adding more raw foods to your daily routine. Even swapping one cooked food for a raw option at each meal can make a difference in how you look, feel and perform.
Some of the benefits of eating more raw foods include:
- Increased energy production and mental clarity
- Natural cleansing effects
- More available enzymes to break down your food and absorb nutrients,
- Less risk of over eating (eat as many raw fruits and veggies as you like and you’ll still never reach that comatose-full feeling you get from cooked foods)
- Less food packaging
- Digestive regularity
- More antioxidants
- Better complexion
Here are the top 10 raw foods you should be adding to your diet on a regular basis. The pros? They’re all amazingly delicious foods that you don’t have to choke down for the sake of good health!
1. Cultured vegetables – (or fermented) vegetables are some of the best foods you can put in your body. They’re not only an easy to digest raw food (the fermentation process pre-digests the starches in the foods and makes them easier for your body to process and absorb), but they are also a super source for a wide range of enzymes and probiotics that help build immunity, improve digestion and nutrient absorption and enliven your overall health. Use them as a condiment, in a salad or atop a soup, or toss in a quesadilla or rice and bean bowl. Check out the Classic Sauerkraut, Kimchi and other products from Firefly Kitchens in our Green Grocery.
2. Coconut – are one of the most naturally hydrating foods, especially the young varieties. The natural electrolyte composition of coconut water is better at re-hydrating the body than any other sport/nutrition drink and is the best match to what your body already produces. Coconuts are also packed with healthy fats that help lower cholesterol, fuel your brain and heart function, and have natural antibacterial and anti-fungal properties.
3. Chia Seeds – they have more omega 3’s and antioxidants than flax and have been used for centuries as a life sustaining food. In addition, Chia seeds are an easily digested food, provide easy access nutrients to the body and are one of the most complete plant-based sources of protein available. One of the most amazing things about chia is its ability to expand and absorb liquid. This makes chia seeds a great source of extended hydration as they break down and slowly release this absorbed liquid in your digestive system, as well as a good tool for weight loss and management as they can absorb liquid and expand inside your stomach as well, creating a long lasting feeling of satiation.
4. Leafy Greens – it’s almost impossible to get enough greens. If given the chance, you could ingest greens for every meal and see only benefits from it. Leafy greens like kale, chard, beet greens, collards and spinach, are high in chlorophyll, a powerful antioxidant, vitamins C and E, fiber, enzymes and amino acids. Eating leafy greens raw preserves their utmost nutritional concentration and makes for a more filling meal. Try this raw kale salad recipe and add your favorite seasonal fruits and veggies.
5. Seeds – are high in fiber, vitamin E, and healthy unsaturated fats that can help keep your brain and heart healthy. Raw seeds are also a good source of protein, zinc, which is good for your immune system, and have been linked to lower levels of the bad LDL cholesterol. Grind them into a paste similar to peanut butter and spread on crackers, toast or veggies. Or, add them to a salad, stir fry or bowl of granola, but keep ‘em raw – their healthy fats can oxidize when exposed to high heat and their minerals and nutrients decrease when cooked.
6. Seaweeds – such as kelp, nori, wakame and arame have an estimated 10-20 times the average nutrients in land plants and are one of the richest sources of chlorophyll available. Seaweeds are extremely high in minerals and are said to be one of the most easily assimilated sourced of minerals for the human bloodstream. They are also a good plant based source of iron, calcium and iodine. In eastern medicine practices seaweeds are said to detoxify, moisten, act as lymphatic cleansers, alkalize the blood (which tends to be very acidic due to our modern diet), and improve the liver and thyroid functions.
7. Sprouts – the dormant energy of any grain, seed or legume is the source of life and growth potential that it contains. As the growth process begins during sprouting, food enzymes are activated, nutrient levels increase and new vitamins and minerals are taken on. In fact, per calorie sprouts are said to provide more vitamins, minerals, enzymes and proteins than any other food. Sprouts are also high in phytonutrients and chlorophyll, which play an antioxidant role in your body. Read more about sprouts and sprouting on the Full Circle homepage.
8. Blueberries- they have more antioxidants than any other fruit, quite a bit of heart healthy fiber and are a natural brain food. Blueberries are not a hard one to add to your diet, especially if you pick up some frozen organic ones from the farmers market or local grocery; they’re versatile, ready to eat and you can never have too many!
9. Bee Pollen – unless, of course, you are allergic to bees or their pollen, this is one of nature’s most immaculate raw superfoods. With over 96 different nutrients, including every essential nutrient to human life, you could practically subsist on bee pollen and water alone. Bee pollen is made up of about 40% protein and, as you may assume due to all its nutrients, is an amazing source of energy. It has also been studied for its ability to decrease seasonal allergies when you eat locally produced pollen, as well as its impact on endurance during exercise. Just a teaspoon a day provides a full array of benefits. Throw it in a smoothie, on a salad or eat it plain – it actually tastes great!
10. Chocolate – ok, so not just your plain old chocolate bar but raw chocolate, or cacao, sits right up there in the super-food category. Raw cacao nibs, which are what chocolate producers roast and process into cocoa, are rich in magnesium, which is an essential nutrient for energy production in your cells. Raw cacao is also packed with antioxidants and may help relieve stress due to natural serotonin levels. Don’t get carried away with this one though – like other superfoods, raw cacao is good in moderation and it’s benefits decrease quickly when sugar and processing is involved.