Raw food diet followers say that cooking foods destroys nutrients and enzymes; raw food marketers claim their products are better for you. Raw desserts are selling like hotcakes (so to speak), as consumers concerned about their health seek to satisfy their basic instincts for sweet pleasure. Are raw desserts nutritionally superior? Let’s take a closer look.
Most raw foodies won’t eat food cooked above 42°C (108°F), the temperature at which the sun dries out food. To concentrate flavours and make foods crispier without heat, raw foodies use dehydrating machines for fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, sprouted beans and seaweed. You can read more about raw foods in GI News here and here.
Reading the marketing guff for raw desserts, you’d be forgiven for thinking their brownies, slices, bliss balls, bars, cakes and mousses were a free pass into healthy dessert heaven while wearing slim-fitting trousers. Don’t be fooled; these are not everyday foods. They may look gorgeous and contain healthy ingredients such as fruit and nuts, and may be higher in fibre, vitamins and minerals than more orthodox sweets, but because they are usually made with a lot of dried fruit, nuts and seeds (often with a hefty swig of coconut oil) they are very high in calories.
We analysed (Foodworks) two raw desserts (Rawtarian Brownie and Merrymaker Sisters Paleo Salted Caramel Slice) with two traditional recipes on www.taste.com to give you the raw data on raw desserts. The calorie content is very similar. However, if you decide to tuck into Merrymaker’s caramel slice you will down your day’s maximum recommended saturated fat allowance (24 grams in about 3 bites). All gone in one petite portion.
The raw deal Dessert is dessert – raw or otherwise. A treat. An extra. Some raw desserts might add extra nutrients, but just like their traditional counterparts, they will also add extra calories, and possibly help you to store them around your middle. Keep raw desserts for occasional indulgence and don’t kid yourself you are bucking the usual nutritional rules because you went “raw”.
The un-plugged truth
- You do not need to follow a raw food diet to be healthy or lose weight.
- Some raw desserts may have more fibre and nutrients than their trad counterparts, but they can contain just as many calories and possibly more saturated fat.
- Enjoy raw desserts occasionally and in small amounts.
Thanks to Rachel Ananin AKA TheSeasonalDietitian.com for her assistance with this article.
Nicole Senior is an Accredited Nutritionist, author, consultant, cook, food enthusiast and mother who strives to make sense of nutrition science and delights in making healthy food delicious.