Investigating the raw food diet

Raw food diets are predominantly plant-based diets followed with the intention of preventing chronic diseases by virtue of their high content of beneficial nutritive substances such as carotenoids.

However, little is known about the ability to maintain recommended levels of nutrients with this diet. Now, researchers from the University of Giessen in Germany are taking a closer look.

Here’s what they found regarding vitamin A and carotenoid status among raw food diet adherents in Germany.

First, the details.

  • 198 strict raw food dieters were surveyed.

And, the results.

  • Raw food dieters consumed about 95% (by weight) of their total food intake as raw food (about 1800 grams/day).
  • They ate fruits, mainly.
  • They had an intake of 1301 retinol activity equivalents/day and 16.7 mg/day carotenoids.
  • Vitamin A status was normal in 82% of them, and 63% had beta-carotene concentrations associated with chronic disease prevention.
  • 77% of dieters had lower lycopene levels than the average healthy population.
  • Fat contained in fruits, vegetables and nuts, and oil consumption was a significant dietary determinant of carotenoid blood concentrations.

The bottom line?
It appears that most people following the raw food diet maintain normal vitamin A levels and achieve beta-carotene blood concentrations recommended for chronic disease prevention. However, they are at risk of low lycopene levels in the blood.

The basic message from the raw food diet is that eating fresh vegetables, sprouts, nuts, and seeds is good for you.

Here, an advocate advises how to get started.

7/14/08 11:56 JR

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at, a complementary and alternative medicine website.