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100% Raw, or Steamed Vegetables?

I also have received a lot of questions that I’ll be answering below. You can comment on them here.


I was recently diagnosed with candida albicans and told to eliminate fruit for at least 3 weeks. Then, I can add less sweet fruits back slowly. What is your experience with candida albicans? What would you recommend since I was depending on the fruit for calories? I’ve already lost 15 pounds and only weigh 100 pounds since starting the raw foods diet. Thanks for answering my questions. I truly appreciate your teaching and cookbook products.

ANSWER: I get that question a lot, so I’ve decided to answer it in a 20-page report on the Fruit Controversy at:

Are Cooked Minerals Inorganic?

Hi Fred, Thanks for your article that included personal experiences. I found that helpful.

There’s so much controversy or conflicting info from different sources. It would be helpful to address these in more depth to clarify the issues. For example:

– Are minerals in food that gets cooked turned inorganic?
– Another one: is oxalic acid in raw spinach harmful, or is it harmful in cooked form only?
– Another: you say that sprouts have toxins and so should be avoided. On further inquiry, I found that Gabriel Cousens states that the toxin canavanine in alfalfa sprouts is mild, that one would have to eat a lot of it to have toxic effects, and that as it is water soluble, by the seventh day of rinsing, it is mostly gone.

TC Fry has the philosophical position that anything Nature intended as food for us would have no toxins, and thus he dismisses sprouts. Well, so many vegetables have slight amounts of toxins, that we might as well eat next to no vegetables!


I take that as an extreme position. A philosophy is a good rule of thumb, but it can become a dogma (just like, “If it’s raw, it’s cool!”). These are some ideas to play with. Thanks, and I really do appreciate your approach to diet. Ed Hirsch


To answer your questions Ed:

–    Cooking does not render minerals useless in the body. If that were the case, then nobody eating cooked food could stay alive. So the answer is: no

–    That’s an interesting question about Spinach and oxalic acid. The problem with oxalic acid is that it can combine with calcium to form calcium oxalates. However, what I’ve found is that the Spinach grown today in North America contains much less oxalic acid than in the past. When I travel to other countries where they grow older varieties, I find the Spinach impossible to eat raw because of the oxalic acid. But if you eat the common “baby Spinach” there’s nothing to worry about.

–    Sprouts contain toxins but like Gabriel Cousens mentioned, the risks are minimal in small quantities. I’m opposed to Buckwheat greens because of a very strong toxin contained in them. Read more about it here:

In general, you cannot avoid toxins completely in natural foods. But like you said the amounts are minimal in vegetables.

How can you tell? If something is palatable to the taste, when eaten raw, without seasonings or combinations, then it’s human food.

If it’s too strong, too bitter or otherwise unpalatable then it contains toxins and should be avoided.

Then from that general principles you can make a few exceptions, for example with mild spices such as dill, cilantro, green onions, etc.

100% Raw, or Steamed Vegetables?

Hi Fred, I’m a believer in the benefits of raw. However, I came across this information by Dr. Joel Fuhrman, author of “Eat to Live” – a very well respected doctor who wrote this article on “The Cold Truth about Raw Foods”. It makes a lot of sense to me: What’s your opinion on this? I think 100% raw is difficult to do, especially in a cold climate like Toronto. Thanks, Nimisha


I tend to agree with the general position of Dr. Fuhrman, although I do think eating more raw will give you better health results overall.

The question of “cooking” is actually quite secondary. The first question is: what are our natural foods?

This debate has been answered fully in my book “The Raw Secrets”.

The answer is simple: fruits and vegetables are our natural foods, best adapted to human physiology.

Then we also find that in general eating foods in their raw, natural state yield more benefits. There are some exceptions, as Dr. Fuhrman pointed out.

It then becomes a personal decision: do you eat 100% raw or do you include steamed vegetables and other relatively healthy cooked foods in your diet as well? Personally, I still sometimes eat these items. But the bulk of my diet is raw, and that’s what I try to stick to.

What I find in general is that once people open the door to cooked foods, then the rules become quite loose and eventually they’re back eating pretty much anything. It’s often much easier to just stick with raw foods.

Also, a lot of the issues around absorption of the nutrients in vegetables can be solved by including blended salads and green smoothies in your diet. In a future post, I will describe an easy way to add more easily digestible raw vegetables to your diet.

Bottom line is if you eat some steamed vegetables, it’s not the end of the world, and could have some nutritional benefits. But in overall raw foods are superior.


I’m loving the green smoothies! My question is about using kale – I’ve read some stuff now that suggests avoiding cruciferous greens because they aren’t digestible and can cause an acidic condition – your thoughts?

ANSWER: I never heard about that. Green vegetables, on the contrary, are quite alkaline. The issue with kale is more digesting it, due to the rough fiber. So I find it’s best to use it in small quantities only, blended in green smoothies, after carefully removing the stem, which is too hard to digest.

Frederic Patenaude
Frederic Patenaude
Frederic Patenaude has been an important influence in the raw food and natural health movement since he started writing and publishing in 1998, first by being the editor of Just Eat an Apple magazine. He is the author of over 20 books, including The Raw Secrets, the Sunfood Cuisine and Raw Food Controversies. Since 2013 he’s been the Editor-in-Chief of Renegade Health.

Frederic loves to relentlessly debunk nutritional myths. He advocates a low-fat, plant-based diet and has had over 10 years of experience with raw vegan diets. He lives in Montreal, Canada.