“Fresh Whole Raw” Foods
These include familiar leafy greens, fresh herbs and spices, and even raw meat and fish (from healthy animals or fish). These universally contain a safe and balanced blend of antioxidants simply because all living organisms – plant or animal – use them to prevent oxygen damage. Plants can manufacture an uncountable variety of different antioxidants. Family names for some of the common antioxidants include flavonoids, terpenes, phenolics, coumarins, and retinoids (vitamin A precursors). The nutraceutical industry doesn’t want people to know that there is nothing unique about any of their “unique” formulations; all fresh fruits and vegetables contain antioxidants, flavonoids and other categories of chemicals used as selling points on nutraceutical packages. What is important to know, is that antioxidants must work as a team to be effective, thus where you find one you’ll find many more – but only when they’re fresh.
Freshness and Antioxidants
Is a vital factor when it comes to antioxidants. Why? Because exposure to oxygen spoil antioxidants. Antioxidants protect our tissues against oxygen damage by acting like selfless chemical heroes. In order to, protect other chemicals from free radical and oxygen damage, they throw themselves in the line of fire. Antioxidants gradually lose their ability to do this over time, as oxidation occurs naturally and inevitably during storage.1 Also, a plants’ antioxidant potency can be neutralized through processing methods such as drying or heating.2 It is possible to taste how much nutritional power a given plant is packing. More intense flavors directly correlate with more nutrients. Both flavor and nutrient density result from the bio-concentration of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and other nutrient systems.
Raw, Isn’t Always Better
While raw vegetables (uncooked) often deliver the largest punch of antioxidants, we must be aware that raw isn’t always better. This is due to cellulose, the material that gives plants their stiffness and crunch. Vitamins and minerals in high-cellulose plants are locked within the cellulose-rich cell walls and the pass right through our digestive system without being absorbed. Without using heat or corrosive chemicals, cellulose can only be broken down using specialized bacteria and extended gut-fermentation – humans lack the intestinal yardage to accomplish (though we can replicate it via fermentation). For example, studies have shown that only one percent of the retinoids (vitamin A precursors) in raw carrots get absorbed. But cooking the carrots, which hydrolyzes cellulose in a very similar way it hydrolyzes proteins, increases that percentage to 30.3
But, Freshness Comes First
Whether you eat your veggies, raw or gently cooked, freshness is paramount. The fact that most grocery store vegetables are grown in nutrient deficient soil, picked before they are ripe, and then travel the world in cold storage, reducing nutrition and flavor further still results in widespread nutrient deficiencies.
Here in the United States, health department officials encourage us to cook our meat to death. They don’t do this because overcooked meat is tastier or more nutritious but rather our meat has been slaughtered days or even weeks before we buy it, let alone eat it. The animals this meat comes from have been raised in filthy conditions that enable pathogenic bacteria to thrive and multiply. To destroy these pathogens, or at least try to, we must use plenty of heat in order to be “safe.” Fresh meat on the other hand, when the animals are known to be healthy, can safely be consumed rare. Juicy pinkness is even a good indicator of the presence of far more nutrients than you get when meat is overcooked.
Dr. Francis Marion Pottenger
Was a brilliant physician who co-founded the Pottenger Sanatorium for treatment of tuberculosis in Monrovia, California. He conducted a 10-year experiment in the 1930s and 1940s that was conducted on cats that illustrates why raw foods are often better. Pottenger fed one group of cats’ raw meat and raw milk, and another group cooked meat and pasteurized milk. The cats that consumed the all -raw diet produced ten generations of healthy kittens. What about the cats on the cooked/pasteurized diet? Things didn’t fare so well for them. By the end of the first generation, they started to develop degenerative diseases and became “quite lazy.” The second generation started developing these degenerative diseases earlier in life and started losing their coordination. By the third generation, the cats developed degenerative diseases very early in life (sound similar to children developing diabetes, anyone?), and some were born blind and weak and died prematurely. There was also an abundance of parasites and vermin found in this third generation. Even skin disease and allergies increased from an incidence of 5 percent in normal cats (cats before the 1st generation) to over 90 percent in the third generation. What about the fourth generation? This is where the cooked/pasteurized cats, unfortunately, came to their end. The litters were stillborn or too sickly to even live long enough to see adulthood.4 This research shows the importance of eating vitamin-rich fresh meat.
Remember Quality Matters!
But if you can’t find or don’t have access to the quality meat that can safely be consumed rare, then stay away. This also makes for all the more reason why you should get the freshest greens you can and eat them raw or gently cooked.
Fact of the Week
Processing of milk alters signaling molecules, located on the surface of milk fat globules, without these signaling molecules the fat globules no longer get a free pass into the intestinal cell. These distorted signals slow the process of digestion down so much that it can lead to constipation.5
The heat used in processing destroys amino acids, especially fragile essential amino acids, and so pasteurized milk contains less protein than fresh.6 These damaged amino acids don’t just disappear either. They have been glycated, oxidized, and converted into stuff like N-carboxymethyl-lysine, malonaldehyde, and 4-hydroxy-nonanal. These are all potential irritants and pro-inflammatory irritants.7