Heat and eat or pop in your mouth, straight from the farm? The debate over the health benefits of eating raw foods is heating up.

For some foodies, nutrition the way nature intended it -- unprocessed, unpasteurized, uncooked and not genetically engineered -- is the only way to go.

It's the most beautiful food that also has superior taste. Not just superior nutrition, but superior taste, said Dara Prentice, a raw food advocate.

Advocates say eating a diet composed of 75 to 100 percent of raw foods alleviates the risk of cardiovascular disease. They say cooked foods are chemically altered during the process and heating food above 104 degrees destroys healthy enzymes.

But Registered Dietician Nadine Pazder isn't biting.

In reality, because your stomach is so acidic and enzymes are essentially a protein compound, once those enzymes get to your stomach you re not going to get the benefits if there is any anyway, because it s going to get digested in these acids, Pazder said.

She says cooking foods destroys dangerous bacteria like salmonella and E. Coli.

Raw foods can be potentially dangerous for people who are immunocompromised, she said. It can be dangerous for the elderly; it can be dangerous for pregnant women or very young children.

Since very restrictive diets have been associated with growth problems, the American Dietetic Association says raw food plans may not be appropriate for infants and children.

Raw food advocates point out fewer calories are consumed eating this way, which could help curb America s obesity epidemic, one of the biggest national health issues today.

Read or Share this story: