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.

I thought I had a good handle on this topic. But last month, I attended an eye-opening presentation called "Fruit or Fat?" [3] with Laurie Masters, the editor for Doug Graham's book, The 80/10/10 Diet. You can watch her presentation here:


What new stuff did I learn from Laurie?

First, 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. But here's something new I learned from Laurie.

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, http://www.ars.usda.gov/ba/bhnrc/ndl

[3] View the video of Laurie's presentation at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EvelNdJnuyU. Her website is www.GreenSongPress.org.

[4] Manitoba Harvest Hemp Oils & Foods, Comparison of Dietary Fats, http://www.manitobaharvest.com/ http://www.manitobaharvest.com/, (December 2010).

5 Comment(s)

  1. Hi Trevor, thanks for sharing all this necessary information.   I am very grateful for the kind efforts and hard work put into all of this.
    I would like to mention that so many health educators, which includes medical doctors would tell us that using one Tbsp. of Olive oil in the morning and one in the afternoon is okay.   I heard one medical doctor who talks about natural health issues, said that one Tbsp. olive oil is good for the day.   I also heard that the cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil, helps to keep one's arteries open,  for as we age, our arteries gets hardened.
    For over 15 years now, I have been using a little of the olive oil, not to cook with, but placed on my meal each day.   I cook with a little water, use no fried foods, nor processed and refined foods.    I do eat raw foods as well, and do juice vegetables when possible.   I do not mix fruits and vegetables at any one meal.   I use fruits in the mornings.   I use raw nuts ocassionally, but just four or five only grains of cashew, or walnuts, or 10 only raw almonds or less.  I also occasionally eat a few grains of raw pumpkin seeds, or sunflower seeds, but do not eat it the same day if I eat the nuts.    I use occasionally one tsp., tahini.    I also use whole wheat flour to make tortillas.   I take a few natural supplements, including omega 3, evening primrose oil, B 12, and B complex, and CO-q-10 Enzyme.    I am 71 and have no health issue at  all.  I eat my last meal before 4 p.m, at times earlier, and  occasionally at 5 p.m or before 6 p.m.   I do all this to prevent heart disease and to keep healthy.    I am an active person.   I know fat is serious business, so I  refuse to be careless.  If I eat Avocado, I use quarter of one.
    I was using a bit of the Olive oil, before I began hearing from Dr. McDougal, but I go with most everything he says, plus Nomi, you Trevor and others.   I hope what I have said will help others to decide to eat healty,  as drugs are not the answer to cancer, heart disease, arthritis, and what have you.   I have no arthritis at all, praise God.   I do share with folks, and lots of people have been helped by staying away from processed and refined foods, and eating healthy prepared meals.   Thank you again, and have a blessed day.

    Abigail Taylor | Reply

  2. I have been reading 80/10/10 after suffering setbacks on my raw food quest. The misunderstanding I had regarding fats and where they reside was clogging me badly and my energy levels dropped accordingly. Having got past the anti-fruit-fructose concept and adjusting my concept of how much is enough fruit – to as much as I need to feel satiated, I've lost the cravings for fatty foods. I believe our body wants more of what it had yesterday – good or bad, so I just gave it the message and it's now REALLY responding.
    I really hope this message gets out there and start planting more fruit trees people, – we'll need em!

    mark | Reply

  3. RE: #1) Ops… I forgot to also add into my 'Healthy Fats'description Oils from plants that are high in MCT.

    JD Mumma, Ami. | Reply

  4. I really thought I was doing well by using olive oil on my huge evening salad along with avacado and walnuts.  Sometimes I even use chia jel and some avacado in my morning smoothie.  Awwwk!  Looks like I need to do a clean sweep of my frig and pantry.  I thought I was doing so well.  Thanks for this information.  Lynn

    Lynn Scott | Reply

  5. hi my name is nikki ive been on a raw food diet for 8 weeks now,i am doing it because i need to loose 2 stone ,i havnt lost any ,so im feeling a bit down because i feel that i have been so good,most of the time i have found it easy,but right now im starting to sway back to eating cooked foods ,but still adding raw as well, thankyou for your comments about fats because i think that might be the problem,also im finding it hard to go to the loo and dont know why, can anyone give me a reason of why this might be. Many thanks x

    nicole cox | Reply

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