There are a number of different pros and cons with regard to eating raw food, and ultimately it is up to each person to decide how these factors balance out. Raw foods, especially fruits and vegetables, often have a great deal of nutritional value that is lost when the food is heated and cooked. This raw produce is also typically much easier to prepare and clean up since there is no need for lengthy cooking, and there will be no pans with baked on grease or crust. On the other hand, eating raw food, especially meats and eggs, can be extremely dangerous and lead to a number of health issues from food borne bacteria.
Eating raw food typically means eating food that is not heated or cooked in any way. These foods can still be cut, chopped, and otherwise prepared to be easier to eat or more appealing on a plate, but simply lack the application of heat. One of the major health benefits of eating raw food such as fruit and vegetables is that a great deal of nutrients and enzymes found in such food are destroyed or lost during cooking.
The actual process of heating fruits and vegetables during cooking creates chemical changes within the food, and many beneficial aspects of the produce can be lost during heating. This includes vitamins, water, fiber, and various enzymes within the food. Eating raw food ensures that these things are not lost, which in turn allows the person to gain the benefits of these nutrients. There is a great deal of research that indicates eating raw fruit and vegetables can greatly improve a person’s digestion due to the natural enzymes lost during cooking and that raw foods are often much higher in antioxidants.
Certain foods, especially meat and eggs, should not be eaten raw, however, as these foods can contain harmful bacteria. Eating raw food that contains these types of bacteria can lead to extreme intestinal discomfort, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and may even prove fatal. While eggs can sometimes be consumed raw, they are a potential source of this type of bacteria and pregnant women, the elderly, and children should especially avoid raw eggs and meat.
Some meat, such as beef steaks, can be eaten raw or undercooked inside, but caution should be taken when doing so. A beef steak may be exposed to bacteria only on the outside of it, which can be killed by cooking the outside of the meat, and if the meat remains undercooked within it can often still be safe. Eating raw food such as ground beef or pork, however, should be avoided since this can often be exposed to bacteria in its entirety.
Certain pieces of beef are so well handled, however, that there is very little risk of exposure to such bacteria and they can be eaten raw even when ground up, though caution should still be practiced. Chicken and turkey should never be eaten raw or undercooked, as the salmonella present in such poultry can be extremely unpleasant. Even certain vegetables such as eggplant and potatoes contain some toxins that are reduced through cooking and should not be eaten raw in high quantities. While eating several raw potatoes is not likely to kill someone, excessive amounts of raw potato could make someone sick and could potentially be fatal in high enough amounts.