Going raw is an essential aspect of the vegan experience, and it’s a practice that is supremely beneficial in terms of your nutritional health. It is also a subject that sparks some discussion and debate as to what the correct approach is when trying to incorporate raw foods into your diet. Going raw generally means eating foods that have not been heated above 115 to 118 degrees (The line blurs there), which is nutritionally beneficial for a number of reasons. For one, many foods relinquish their original phytonutrient and vitamin content during the cooking process, as a host of supplemental nutrients such as vitamins A & B are prone to devaluation when heated. This helps to construct the conventional argument for sticking to a raw food diet, which is essentially the ideal that when heated to a certain degree, your food loses the enzymes and nutrients that help fight various diseases and are necessary for healthy digestion (ie. when you cook it, you kill it). Vitamin C is also a nutrient that is especially susceptible to depletion through prolonged exposure to heat because of it’s unstable make-up, which is another substantial point of reasoning behind why eating raw is usually the better way to go, being that Vitamin C provides the body with a myriad of nutritional benefits including immune system reinforcement, cardiovascular disease prevention, eye disease prevention, and it also promotes healthy hair and skin. By and large, you give your body more of a nutritional benefit when adhering to raw food diet, however, this is not to say that cooked foods should have no place within your daily intake, as properly heated foods can provide their own advantages. Steaming or boiling vegetables often supplies more antioxidants like carotenoids and ferulic acid, both of which help prevent a plethora of afflictions such as diabetes, various cancers, and heart disease. Another nutrient you tend to sacrifice when going all the way raw is Lycopene, an antioxidant found predominantly in tomatoes. When cooked, the bioavailability of Lycopene increases exponentially, in turn reducing your risk of cancer and other cardiovascular ailments, the two primary benefits of the antioxidant. Other vegetables this concept applies to include cooked carrots, spinach, mushrooms, asparagus, cabbage, and peppers. (Just a friendly reminder, deep frying your foods is still not the best idea, as doing so has proven to boost the development of free radicals, highly reactive uncharged molecules that can cause harm to your cells and are known to be a catalyst for cancer and heart disease). Taking all this into account, it is important to achieve a balance between your raw and cooked foods. Nutritionists suggest a diet ranging from roughly 85 percent raw and 15 percent cooked. This way you are avoiding the vitamin deficiencies relative to a largely cooked diet while bolstering your intake of Lycopene and other antioxidants that are less prominent in an all raw diet. The Squeeze is an exemplar of this suggested dietary regiment, offering a variety of vibrant and nutritious raw foods, as well as some savory cooked items. Check our diverse selection out here!