New research on cooked food may have raw foodists second-guessing their diet choice. The study, conducted by Harvard researchers and published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences concludes that cooked food provides more energy than raw.
According to study researcher Rachel Carmody, a PhD student at Harvard's Graduate School of Arts Department of Human Evolutionary Biology, processing food—whether by heat, grinding, slicing or pureeing—has often overlooked effects on the possible energy available.
“Every day, humans in every global society devote time and energy to processing food—cooking it, grinding it, slicing it, pounding it—yet we don’t understand what effect these efforts have on the energy we extract from food, or the role they might have played in our evolution,” Carmody said. “It is astonishing, since energy gain is the primary reason we eat.”
Human brain development has been long believed to be attributable to the consumption of (raw) meat, but Carmody suggests that it is the cooking of foods including meat that played a larger role in human cognitive development.
Study subjects ate foods prepared either raw and whole, raw and pounded, cooked and whole or cooked and pounded. Body mass was then tested for energy levels and the results were overwhelmingly consistent with the higher energy levels found in subjects that ate the cooked food diets.
Carmody's work flies in the face of the popular celeb-endorsed raw food diet that eschews cooking any foods over 118 degrees Fahrenheit. Believed to provide more energy and vitality through delicate enzymes destroyed by heat, raw foodists claim some of the major benefits include improved energy, illness prevention and reversal, and ease in maintaining ideal body weight.
Keep in touch with Jill on Twitter @jillettinger