Protein, carbohydrate, iron, calcium, B12, essential fatty acids – can you get enough of them when you’re eating raw food? When you start eating raw food one of the most common questions you get asked is “where are you getting your protein/iron/calcium?” etc.
People associate protein with animal based products, but in fact certain raw foods are far better sources of protein. In order to digest animal protein the body has first to break it down into amino acids before being able to absorb the nutrients. Raw food sources of protein are simple proteins and are already in amino acid form, which means the body has to expend less energy to absorb the raw food protein. As a lot of the benefits of raw food come from the body having to expend less energy in digesting, this is an important factor.
Cooked and animal protein = LESS energy left for your cells to heal and regenerate.
Raw food protein = MORE energy left for your cells to heal and regenerate.
Raw foods high in protein include sprouted pulses, green leafy vegetables, goji berries, seaweed and algae (e.g. spirulina), cacao, hemp seeds and maca.
All fruits and vegetables contain carbohydrate. Fruit and starchy vegetables such as sweet potatoes, squashes and root vegetables are particularly high in carbohydrate, as are sprouted pulses. If you’re working out it’s important to make sure you’re getting enough carbs. One of the best sources is sprouted buckwheat (actually a fruit and nothing to do with wheat), which is also a good source of protein.
Raw food sources of calcium are more bio-available (e.g. easier for your body to absorb) than cooked food sources of calcium, including dairy products. Dark green leafy vegetables are the best raw sources of calcium, as well as sesame seeds and spirulina.
It’s important to make sure that you’re getting enough iron whatever you’re eating. Great raw sources of iron include spirulina, parsley, Spinach, red fruits, pumpkin seeds and dandelion leaves.
Vitamin B12 is one of the hardest vitamins to come across in a raw vegan diet. Some people believe that spirulina and other algae are a source of B12 whilst others have say that it actually contains B12 analogues, which compete for real B12 absorption. The best way to get enough B12 is either to eat some animal products (such as eggs or unpasteurised dairy) or to take a vegan B12 supplement. The best B12 supplements come in spray form, to be sprayed under the tongue for easy absorption, or as stick-on patch.