Health Beat 10-1-2005

Raw Deal?

The raw-foods diet, based on uncooked or slightly cooked fruits, veggies, nuts, seeds and sprouts, might be the latest darling of health faddists from Santa Monica to Tribeca, but before jumping on the bandwagon, consider the pros and cons, according to Tara Gidus, RD, an Orlando-based spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association.
    On the plus side, the diet gets people to eat fruits and veggies. “They provide lots of fiber, are low in fat and high in antioxidants,” Gidus says. But the diet can be socially isolating, since it becomes difficult for adherents to follow it at other people’s homes, social events or most restaurants.
    And while some people think cooking food kills off nutrients, that’s not always true. “Cooking actually increases our ability to absorb vitamins like beta-carotene and lycopene,” says Gidus. Raw-food vegetarians also risk not getting enough calcium, iron or vitamin B-12.
    Gidus’ conclusion: “Overall, I rank this as pretty extreme as far as fad diets go and I don’t think people can stick to it that long.”