Saturday, October 7, 2017

Exotic/Disgusting Foods and Beverages Forum--Raw and Sprouted Foods

     The topic of this week's post can be termed as another "food with a philosophy."  In this case, the raw food movement.  Briefly, proponents of this diet claim that raw foods are healthier than processed and cooked ones, since some nutrients are destroyed, or at least minimized, during these actions.  Some folks, of course, take this to extremes, and think that humans shouldn't eat any cooked foods, and that avoiding these can protect consumers against most diseases, even serious ones such as cancers.  Later in this piece I'll cover the opposing views.
     I purchased three raw and sprouted foods, all from the Go Raw line  of the Freeland Foods company, out of California in the U.S.  I had the sweet spirulina and the pumpkin seed kinds from their "sprouted bites" line, and the lemon pie flavor from their "sprouted cookie" line.  Other categories in their catalog include sprouted bars, coconut crisps, raw chocolate, grow protein bars, sprouted flax seed, sprouted granola, salad snacks, and sprouted seeds.  Freeland Foods are billed as junk-free, sprouted, raw, all organic, GMO-free, and (for most kinds) vegan and kosher.  The company also endorses responsible farming.  Each of the bags I got were 3 ounces (85 grams) and were fairly pricey, being between $4 and $5.
     The sweet spirulina bites were made from sesame seeds, banana, unsulphured coconut, dates, and spirulina (a kind of cyanobacteria (nee blue-green algae)).  They were square in shape, about 1.25 inches (about 3 cm.) to a side, with a dark green color, with visible sesame seeds at the surface.  I tasted the banana sweetness, and not much else.  They were fairly bland.  Although as I continued to eat the bag they grew on me slightly.  But still, mediocre at best.  The pumpkin seed kind was made from sprouted pumpkin seeds (of course), sprouted flax seeds, dates, agave nectar (see September 13, 2015 post), and Celtic sea salt.  These bites were square, about 2.5 cm. (about 1 inch) to a side, with a greenish/yellowish/brownish hue, with visible seeds pressed into them.  This kind had a granola-like taste, with a hint of sweetness.  Solid, but not great.  The best of the bunch, but not awesome.  Finally, the lemon pie cookies were brownish-yellow in color, and round, with a diameter of about 1.25 inches (about 3 cm.), yet again with seeds apparent on the surface.  These contained unsulphured coconut, sprouted sesame seeds, dates, and lemon oil.  These cookies had a slight lemon tang, but were blandish once more.  The label claimed they were "decadent and sweet," which I think is an overstatement.  However, as with the spirulina one, they did kind of grow on me as I finished the bag.  Overall though, I don't think I'll buy any of these again.  They were average to kind of alright, but not special enough to become a regular snack for me.
     As for the claim that raw and sprouted foods are much healthier than cooked ones, there are certainly detractors.  For example, while some foods' nutrient load is lessened by cooking, for others, such as spinach, tomatoes, peppers, carrots, and sweet potatoes, their nutrients are actually improved by cooking.  Also, the act of eating, and digestion, starting with the saliva in chewing, and ending with a bath in stomach acid, destroys many of the healthy enzymes anyway, whether the foods were raw or cooked.  So, all in all, some nutritionists contend that the health benefits of raw/sprouted foods are exaggerated in many cases.  Furthermore, there are some health risks with eating a raw/sprouted diet.  Consumers can suffer from Vitamin B12, Vitamin D, and calcium deficiencies, cholesterol problems, and poor bone density, which can be magnified in children.  Also sprouted foods have the danger of becoming contaminated with very serious bacteria, such as e. coli, listeria, and salmonella.  This is especially risky if one is drying and sprouting their raw foods at home.  I think the general consensus of nutritionists is that raw and sprouted foods can be beneficial, but avoiding all cooked foods may be too extreme.  So, as with all alternative diets, it's probably best to get all the available information first, and check with your doctor, etc., before making drastic changes.  (For a discussion about another alternative diet, the Paleo Diet, see the December 13, 2015 post.) 


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