(NaturalNews) The health benefits of eating certain foods raw are numerous, as raw foods are essentially living foods that contain live enzymes, undamaged nutrients, and alkaline-forming compounds that help nourish and cleanse the body. And you do not necessarily have to take the leap to a completely raw diet to gain the many health benefits of raw foods. Simply incorporating more raw foods into your existing diet can help bring about positive changes that will help you look and feel your best.
Here are seven of the best raw foods you can begin adding to your diet today, if you have not added them already:
1) Coconut. One of the greatest "superfoods" of our time, raw coconut is a nutrient powerhouse that is virtually unmatched throughout nature. The natural water from a young, raw coconut, for instance, is loaded with vitamins, minerals, and electrolytes, and is perfectly balanced to keep your body hydrated and nourished. And raw coconut meat (flesh), which is found around the inside of a coconut shell, is equally beneficial, as it contains high levels of lauric acid, a type of saturated fat that resists harmful viruses, bacteria, and fungi, and promotes brain health.
Regularly eating the flesh of a raw coconut and drinking its juice can help you shed the excess pounds, avoid developing heart disease, and keep your free-flowing cholesterol levels in check. Raw coconut can also help boost energy levels, promote healthy thyroid function and hormone levels, rejuvenate skin, and heal a damaged gut. Incorporating raw coconut oil into your diet is another great way to get more of this superfood into your body. (http://www.naturalnews.com/036156_Coconut_oil_superfood_healing.html)
2) Chia seeds. When it comes to omega-3 fatty acids and disease-fighting antioxidants, chia seeds are virtually unsurpassed within the plant world. An ancient superfood consumed by both Aztec and Mayan warriors for strength and sustenance, chia seeds are another superfood that is easy to eat raw and highly versatile. Rich in fiber, essential fatty acids, calcium, antioxidants, and protein, chia seeds are helpful for weight maintenance, healthy digestion -- they form a soothing gel layer when soaked in water or liquid -- immune support, disease prevention, and general survival. (http://www.naturalnews.com/027035_chia_seeds_health.html)
3) Sprouted nuts and seeds. This general category of raw nutrition is essential, as untreated, sprouted nuts and seeds provide a wealth of important vitamins, minerals, nutrients, enzymes, and proteins that have not been damaged or denatured by heat. Raw, sprouted almonds, for instance, are one of the healthiest foods you can consume because they contain healthy fats, complete protein, amino acids, and essential trace minerals. Generally, sprouted nuts and seeds help boost immunity, regulate cholesterol levels, support a healthy brain and heart, and provide lasting nourishment. (http://realfoodforlife.com/nuts-seeds/)
4) Cacao (chocolate). A key component to a healthy metabolism is the mineral magnesium, and one of the best natural sources of this essential mineral compound is raw cacao, the bean from which cocoa and chocolate are derived. Raw cacao is unique in that it contains well over 300 identifiable nutrient compounds that feed the systems of your body, promoting healthy brain chemistry, boosting energy levels, improving circulation, and neutralizing cancer-causing free radicals. Raw cacao also helps stimulate the production of digestive enzymes, which benefits gut health. (http://www.builtlean.com/2012/04/12/raw-chocolate/)
5) Leafy greens. It is virtually impossible to consume too many leafy green vegetables, which means loading up on them all throughout the day, and every day, will only bring about positive health benefits. Because they are rich in chlorophyll, leafy greens like spinach, kale, and Swiss chard are a key dietary component for boosting energy levels, detoxifying the liver and other organs, and cleansing the digestive tract. Eating leafy greens will also help keep you regular, so eat, juice, take powdered, leafy greens for maximum health. (http://www.janethull.com)
6) Fermented vegetables. Raw fruits and vegetables grown organically without chemicals are supremely healthy in their own right, but they can become even healthier when cultured. The fermentation process used to culture vegetables like cabbage, carrots, and cucumbers actually makes them easier to digest, which means your body is able to unlock and access their nutrients far easier than they otherwise would. Fermented vegetables are also packed with gut-enhancing enzymes and probiotic bacteria, which together build immunity and improve nutrient absorption. (http://www.naturalnews.com/027443_vegetables_food_health.html)
7) Pasture-based dairy products. Dairy products are often disregarded in the natural health community as being unhealthy. But dairy products obtained from grass-fed animals are actually quite healthy, and can provide a solid nutritional foundation from which to incorporate other raw foods into your diet. Pasture-based raw milk, for instance, contains a near-perfect combination of healthy fats, proteins, digestive enzymes, and probiotic bacteria that have helped some people overcome allergies, heal digestive issues, and build strong immunity. (http://www.realmilk.com)