Is there any evidence that humans need some raw food to be maximally healthy? Or can we eat a 100% cooked food? In other words, assuming a cooked diet that is otherwise very healthy (and that answers all of the body's vitamin/mineral needs), is there any reason to think there is something else (e.g., digestive enzymes, un-denatured proteins) in raw food that we need?
P.S. I know all about the wonders of raw milk vs. pasteurized milk, but I'd like to put that aside since dairy is by no means required for human health.
Second related question:
Assuming fruit is identified as something that makes sense to eat raw (because it's palatable and easy to digest raw or because polyphenols are degraded during cooking, or for another reason), is there any evidence that humans need to eat anything other than fruit (e.g., vegetables, nuts, meat) raw?
I think there are.
I believe humans should eat around 50-50 raw - cooked.
Many vitamins are lost with cooking - vitamin C, folate, CoQ10 etc... this depends on time and temperature ofc. Supplements are OK, but they are NOT REPlACEMENT. We still don't know about many molecules that are beneficial for our health and new are discovered each year. Synergistic property of raw food vitamins is well known.
Others leech into the water and are often lost this way.
Cooking itself produces AGEs depending on food content and dietary AGEs do get absorbed somehow
Cooking will denature proteins. They might fold back but some require chaperons and can not fold back. They will get digested but generally not into amino acids but short proteins - peptides which still might have biological role if folded properly.
Cooking aparature introduces additional toxins and if you use tap water it concentrates fluoride.
Thats negative, on positive we have less phatogens, less certain kinds of toxins, easier digestion, new food choices etc...
On the raw side we have intact enzymes which help digestion, intact proteins and non rancid fats. On the negative side, more toxins and limited food choices which means malnutrition which means disease and death.
So, ideally, I think we should balance it out. My raw input are mostly vegetables, occasional fruit and nuts, rarely eggs and meat.
Some components are more bioavailable raw while some are more available after heating. Could you live on only cooked? Probably. But, I would just hypothesize that you would get a greater variety of nutrients from utilizing both. And in addition to raw fruits how about salad greens (I would not cook down red leaf lettuce)?
I recently wrote a post about why you should eat primarily cooked food: http://www.radiancenutrition.com/2011/08/19/put-down-that-kale-smoothie-why-you-should-cook-your-food/
I can't answer your question in its entirely, but I'd be wary of consuming nuts that weren't raw unless I soaked and dehydrated them and/or roasted them at low temps myself. In other words, I wouldn't buy roasted nuts because the high temps used in commercial roasted nuts can break down the natural oils and lead to oxidation.
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