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What raw foods should be avoided?

What Raw Foods Should We Avoid?

I love your website and your videos. I have not seen any reference to raw eggplant: Some websites say it is edible while others say it is not. What is your opinion? Are there other veggies or fruits that should not be eaten raw? Thank you for your time.


Rather than making up rules about what can and cannot be eaten raw, I’d rather have you trust your taste buds. I don’t see anything wrong with raw eggplant, except for the fact that it’s not very tasty. In the past I have marinated it for some recipes, but I don’t think I’ve eaten raw eggplant in the past 5 or 6 years!

A few comments about some fruits and vegetables:

Raw legumes (even soaked or sprouted) should be avoided due to the toxic enzyme inhibitors found in them, as well as high quantities of raw starch. Beans should never be eaten raw.

Potatoes and other very starchy vegetables should also never be eaten raw.

Buckwheat greens should be avoided in large quantities due to a substance contained in them called fagopyrin, which can cause hypersensitivity to sunlight.

Rhubarb is a vegetable to avoid because of the high concentration of oxalic acid.

I recommend moderation with any strong or bitter-tasting green such as dandelion, watercress, culinary herbs, etc.

Here are other foods that are not lethal or toxic but can be considered “borderline” but might be used as a seasoning

•    Garlic: due to the Allyl methyl sulfide produced from the digestion of garlic and the way it is exuded from the skin pores, causing bad breath and smell, I personally prefer to avoid it!

•    Onion  family: quite strong and best used in moderation, or oxidized by chopping them in a food processor and leaving at room temperature for a few minutes for the strong oil to partly evaporate.

•    Hot Peppers: The substance that causes the heat sensation in hot peppers is called “capsaicin.” It binds with pain receptors that are responsible for sensing heat. So it “tricks” the brain into thinking that it’s sensing heat or pain. The physiological response is the same as when an actual burn has occurred, even though the tissues have not been harmed. Heart rate is raised and perspiration is increased, with the release of endorphins. Hot peppers are a stimulant. Knowing that, I still personally enjoy a little “heat” sometimes.

•    Mushrooms: Many types of mushrooms are toxic. The cultivated varieties are relatively safe but I wouldn’t class them in the same category as fruits and vegetables. I rarely enjoy them raw but sometimes I might eat them in a recipe.

There are no reasons to avoid any common fruits sold at the supermarket.

Mixing Fruits With Fat

Hi Frederic! In the Raw Secrets book it states that we should not mix fruit with fat foods (nuts, seeds, oils) because the fruits may ferment since they digest quicker. So, how long should we wait after eating fat foods to eat fruits? Is two hours enough time? Thanks.


For the answer to that question, please refer to my last article on food combining!

Hot Water

I know you believe in limiting eating/drinking ice; what about drinking boiled, hot water? Also just a question about what 100% means: is eating nori seaweed, carob, agave, dried fruits 100% raw, or just acceptable? Thanks!


I have nothing against drinking hot water, if it’s to “warm you up” during the winter. You could even add a little lemon juice. Just be careful not to burn yourself! The lining of your esophagus is very delicate.

As for the other foods you mention, most likely they are not truly raw, but can still be consumed on occasion. I’m not really a big fan of seaweed for reasons mentioned elsewhere, but a little on occasion to make sushi rolls for example, is okay for me. Agave nectar is a concentrated processed sweetener that I don’t recommend either. I prefer to use sweet fruits such as mangoes, if a recipe calls for agave nectar. I might use it occasionally in a recipe if mangoes are not available…

Dried fruits should be avoided most of the time, because they are difficult to digest, tend to ferment and also can stick to the teeth and cause dental decay. However, they can be very useful in exceptional circumstances when carrying fresh fruits would be difficult. For example: traveling in the desert, hiking across a national park, visiting remote islands in the South Pacific, etc. Just make sure you increase your water intake to compensate.

Fruit Ripeness

How can you tell when a fruit is at the “ripe” point to be considered the most nutritionally nutritious (i.e., mangoes, melons, bananas, etc.) Why are mangoes so hard to cut and what is the woody part of the fruit? I have yet to buy a mango that doesn’t get wasted because you cannot cut through the woody part. They are pretty expensive for so much waste.


Every fruit is different, but most fruits are ripe when soft and sweet. That is also their nutritional peak. Bananas are ripe when they start to get some brown spots (although that can be different for some exotic varieties.) Mangoes should be soft and juicy, and certainly not hard like you described. Of course, don’t eat the center seed, cut around it. There are many videos on youtube showing how to cut a mango.  Check it out.

Eating Fruit and Running

I took the giant step towards a raw lifestyle about a month ago and while I’m not 100% yet, I feel great. Leaner, cleaner and just overall better. My big concern is can a raw food diet maintain the fuel/energy requirements of an athlete. I’m a runner. I run about 30 miles a week and compete in races monthly during the race season (mostly 1/2 marathons). Because I haven’t been able to figure out the best way to carb load on a raw diet I still have my bowl of pasta the night before. I’m afraid not to. Have you already addressed this in a previous article or series? If not, I think this would be a great topic for a future one! Thank you for making raw foods look so easy and delicious! The switch can be intimidating when you don’t know what you are doing and you make it look so simple.


As an amateur runner myself, let me give you some tips. I don’t run as much as you do but I have done as much as 20 miles a week.

On a low-fat, high fruit diet you’re going to have much better results with your training. First of all, you don’t need to “carb load” because fruits, unlike cooked complex carbohydrates, are easily digested and provide quick energy.

The problem with most runners is they don’t eat enough simple carbohydrates, which is what the body really needs when you’re running.

The most important thing is to get enough calories and carbs overall. As a runner you’ll probably need to eat at least 3000 calories a day. That’s about 30 bananas, or less if you add in some vegetables and other varieties of fruit.

When I run longer than 90 minutes, I take some fruit with me, usually blended, seedless watermelon or a smoothie made with water, bananas and celery, and drink that every 15 minutes.

You don’t need to “carb load” when you’re eating enough carbs (and most runners aren’t, unfortunately).

For the best information, I recommend the book “Nutrition and Athletic Performance,” by Doug Graham, available on Amazon. It will answer all your questions and more.

South America & Candida

I wanted to recommend you go to South America! I am from Uruguay and if you can work your way around all the meat that the people eat there. You can find great organic raw foods. Also I have a question that you don’t have to respond to if you don’t want. But can you recommend me a diet to kill off my Candida issues..? Thanks and bless!


There are too many countries to visit and not enough time! I have spent a month in Brazil in 2004 and really enjoyed it there. Maybe one day I’ll visit your country as well.

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.