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Why Raw Fooders Eat Way Too Much Fat & Don’t Realize It

In his book, Healthy At 100, John Robbins studied the societies that live the longest and remain the healthiest even well past 100 years of age.

These societies consume between 15% and 20% of their calories from fat.[1] Respected doctors like Dr. Dean Ornish, Dr. John McDougall, and Dr. Michael Klaper all recommend keeping your fat intake in this same low range to minimize your risk of heart disease, cancer and type 2 diabetes. (Yes, even so-called "good" fats like olive oil, nuts, seeds, and avocados.)

Now here's the problem. When measured by *volume*, the amount of fat in our meals looks deceptively small!

Let me demonstrate. If you pour just 1 tablespoon of olive oil over 2 cups of shredded romaine lettuce, you'll get 16 calories from the lettuce and 119 calories from the oil.[2]

In other words, 88.1% of your calories are from fat!

Even fatty whole foods like nuts, seeds and avocados range from 55% to 89% fat.

A nut loaf (even if made from half nuts and half veggies) has more fat than lentil loaf or traditional meatloaf made from full-fat ground beef. And raw nut-based pie crusts often have double the fat of a conventional pie crust!

Second, eating a meal with 1/4 cup of oil significantly constricts blood flow for six hours. This includes raw, cold-pressed oils. Here's a video by Jeff Novick, RD that describes this phenomenon (at 08:10):

Third, the delicate layer of endothelial cells lining your blood vessel walls is damaged whenever you eat oil. This inhibits your cells from producing nitric oxide. To learn about the important functions of nitric oxide, check out this audio interview with Caldwell Esselstyn, M.D.

But don't you need some fat in your diet?

Actually, the only fats your body can't produce are omega-6s and omega-3s. You don't need any other fats. Since coconut oil has neither of these, guess what? There's nothing in coconut oil your body needs!

Sure, lauric acid has some antibacterial properties. But nevertheless, it’s not an essential oil for humans.

Most foods that contain these two polyunsaturated fats contain much more omega-6 than omega-3. For example, corn oil has a 46:1 ratio and safflower oil has a 76:1 ratio (in favor of omega-6)![4]

Since the optimal omega 6:3 ratio is about 1:1, the solution isn't to "load up" on omega-3s. Rather, it's to avoid or minimize foods with unfavorable omega 6:3 ratios. Most packaged and processed foods fall into this category, because they use oils like soybean oil, corn oil, and safflower oil. So do most restaurant foods prepared with oil.

As I've stated before, flax and chia seeds have omega 6:3 ratios of 1:4 and 1:3 respectively. So do their oils. But for the reasons I'm outlining here, we recommend grinding flax seeds and soaking chia seeds, instead of eating their oils. These are the only seeds (and oils) we know of with more omega-3s than omega-6s.

Spinach and romaine lettuce also have more omega-3s than omega-6s. The Omega 6:3 ratio of spinach is 1:6, and the ratio of romaine lettuce is 1:3. Kale, collard greens, and arugula have a 1:1 ratio. So be sure to include hearty portions of these veggies in your daily menu plan.

Vegetables are very low in calories. So when you cut back on fatty whole foods, how do you get enough calories? There are three possible approaches:

  1. Eat lots of fruit, especially sweet fruit that's high in calories.
  2. Add sprouted grains to your raw food diet.
  3. Balance your diet with cooked foods like whole grains, legumes, and root veggies.

Dr. Rick Dina addresses the first two in Lesson 45 of The Vegan Mastery Program, "How To Eat A Balanced Raw Food Diet". And Ginny Messina, RD, addresses the third in Lesson 31, "Which Foods Are More Nutritious Raw vs. Cooked?".

[1] John Robbins, Healthy at 100 (New York: Ballantine Books, 2006) p57

[2] U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service. 2010. USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Release 23. Nutrient Data Laboratory Home Page,

[3] View the video of Laurie's presentation at Her website is

[4] Manitoba Harvest Hemp Oils & Foods, Comparison of Dietary Fats,, (December 2010).

“I’ve been a vegan/macrobiotic cookbook author, food coach and speaker for 37 years. Yet I continue refining my understanding of nutrition, thanks to the broad range of experts Trevor brings to the Q&A calls. My interest in sprouting and juicing has been renewed, and the insights shared on bone health and Vitamins D and B12 have been revelatory.”

– Meredith McCarty, Mill Valley, CA

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