The Debate: Raw vs. Cooked Food

Oct. 20, 2023 by Ava Green

The Debate: Raw vs. Cooked Food

The age-old debate between the benefits of raw food versus cooked food has been a topic of interest for many health enthusiasts and researchers. While both have their merits, understanding the nuances can help individuals make informed decisions about their dietary choices.

Understanding Raw and Cooked Food

When we talk about raw food, it doesn't simply mean uncooked. There are raw food "cookbooks" that offer various recipes without the application of heat. On the other hand, cooking isn't just about boiling, baking, or frying. Natural processes like ripening can also be considered a form of cooking.

Historical Perspective

Our primitive ancestors, who lived several million years ago, primarily consumed raw food. This diet mainly consisted of animal protein, including muscle meats, organ meats, eggs, and even insects. Modern-day examples of communities consuming primarily raw animal protein include the Inuit of the far North and the Masai of Africa, both known for their robust health.

However, as time progressed, the preference for cooked food became more prominent. The cultivation of grains and beans, which require cooking, became widespread around ten thousand years ago. Most current aboriginal communities also prefer cooked food.

The Science Behind Cooking

Research by Dr. Pottenger in the mid-twentieth century highlighted that raw meat and milk contain enzymes essential for digestion. However, heat can deactivate these enzymes. Thus, raw animal products might offer more nutrients and be easier to digest.

Conversely, plant foods behave differently. While they do contain enzymes, many of these enzymes don't aid in their digestion. In fact, some might even interfere with it. Cooking helps break down the cell walls of plants, releasing the nutrients stored within.

Benefits of Cooking

Cooking, in various forms, has its advantages. For animal-based foods, slow, low-heat cooking can dissolve membranes, making digestion easier. For plant-based foods, cooking breaks down the cell wall, releasing essential nutrients. This is especially true for hard foods like grains and beans.

Moreover, cooking can enhance the bioavailability of certain vitamins in plants. For instance, the carotenes in plants, which our bodies convert to vitamin A, become more available through cooking. Even vitamin C content can be higher in some cooked foods compared to their raw counterparts.


While the debate between raw and cooked food continues, it's essential to understand that both have their place in our diet. The key is to strike a balance and choose cooking methods that preserve and enhance the nutrient content of foods.

References: The information in this article is based on a detailed study found at