Glycemic Index and Raw Food

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What is the Glycemic Index?

The glycemic index is the measure of the rate at which ingested food causes the level of glucose in the blood to rise – Merriam-Webster Dictionary.  The concept of the glycemic index was created in the early 1980’s.  Since then it has been linked to many different weight loss diets and is used to explain one cause of obesity.

Glycemic Index ranges

  • High range is 70 or above
  • Medium range is 56-69
  • Low range in 55 or less

Where does Raw Food and specifically fruit fall on the glycemic index?

Glycemic Index Rank
Apple 38 low
Appricot 57 medium
Banana 55 low
Cantaloupe 65 medium
Cherries 22 low
Grapefruit 25 low
Grapes, green 46 low
Kiwi 52 low
Mango 55 low
Orange 44 low
Peach 30 low
Pear 38 low
Pineapple 68 medium
Plum 69 medium
Prune 29 low
Raisins 64 medium
Watermelon 72 high

Of the 17 items, listed 11 are listed as low, 5 as medium and 1 as high.

According to Dr. Fuhrman author of Eat to Live, “Scientific evidence indicates that the glycemic index of a food is not a reliable predictor of the effect food has on blood glucose levels, cholesterol, and insulin levels.”  He goes on to state that the studies on the negative effects of high-glycemic foods always analyze diets that contain refined flour and simple sugar and are low in micronutrients and fiberIt is the poor quality of the high-glycemic diet that promotes weight gain and disease – not merely the high glycemic index foods.

You don’t need to be concerned about the glycemic index of a particular natural food if it is otherwise nutrient and fiber rich and is part of a healthful diet.

The present of fiber is more important than the glycemic index of a raw, whole, ripe, fresh food.

A low glycemic rating relates to slower digestion and absorption of a food carbohydrates.  This slower absorption is linked to lower calorie consumption and weight loss.  This is believed because when you your glucose levels rise and fall quickly you get hungry and want to eat.  The real problem is not the glycemic index of the food but the consumption of more calories.

The over consumption of food causes weight gain.

As a reminder, the studies that determine these findings were done on diets that contained processed foods not natural high-fiber plant foods.

Now you have a reason not to eat processed foods and to eat more high quality foods, those being fresh, whole, raw, ripe fruit.

For more information on glycemic index, check out my other blog article Glycemic Index and Glycemic Load.

Raw Foods Rocks!!



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Essential Fatty Acids

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I love to talk to people about raw foods.  One of the biggest reasons I love to talk to people is because they ask me questions                .

One of the latest questions I got was, “What do you do about getting your essential fatty acids, you need them for your brain.”  Here is some information I have learned over the years about EFA’s.

  • What is an essential fatty acid?
  • Why do we need essential fatty acids?
  • How many essential fatty acids do we need?
  • Food sources of essential fatty acids.

What is an essential fatty acid (EFA)?

An essential fatty acid or EFA is either alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) or linoleic acid (LA).  These two fatty acids are called ‘essential’ because the body cannot synthesize them.

We must get these two fatty acids from the food we eat.  ALA is also known as omega-3 fatty acid and LA is known as omega-6 fatty acid.  There are 12 different fatty acids that are made from ALA and LA and all of these are classified as either omega-3 or omega-6.

Why do we need EFA’s?

EFA’s are needed for healthy skin, hair and nails, for growth and development, for building brain cells, for the structure and function of cell membranes and serve as precursors to hormones, for generating electrical currents that keep the heart rate regular and for helping to form red blood pigments and for clotting and flowing of our blood.

The key is to have the correct amount of EFA’s.  Too much fat or too little fat is dangerous to our health.

How many essential fatty acids do we need?

While there isn’t an official recommendation as to how many EFA’s we need we know that the ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 is important.

The US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health made the following statements:

Several sources of information suggest that human beings evolved on a diet with a ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 essential fatty acids of approximately 1 whereas in Western diets the ratio is 15/1-16.7/1.

Western diets are deficient in omega-3 fatty acids, and have excessive amounts of omega-6 fatty acids compared with the diet on which human beings evolved and their genetic patterns were established.

Excessive amounts of omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids and a very high omega-6/omega-3 ratio, as is found in today’s Western diets, promote the pathogenesis of many diseases, including cardiovascular disease, cancer, and inflammatory and autoimmune diseases.

We eat too much of the wrong fat – omega-6.

According to Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, dietary fats are the least required macronutrient with only a few grams needed per day, with most individuals being able to meet their EFA needs by consuming 14 grams or .5 ounces of fat per day.  The average person consumes 85 grams or 3 ounces per day of fat.  Again, we can see that most of us eat too much fat.

We need to have fat in our diet but the amount of fat needed is very small.  A low-fat raw vegan diet with 10 percent of your calories from fat is adequate to get your necessary essential fatty acids.

Here is how you would calculate this:

2000 calorie a day diet
10% of calories would be 200 fat calories
Fat contains 9 calories per gram
200 calories divided by 9 calories per gram equals 22.22 grams of fat

22.22 grams of fat exceeds what the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine states (14 grams) that most individuals need.

See the chart below for food sources of essential fatty acids.

EFA Content of Various Whole Foods (grams)

1 oz. Fatty Fruits/Nuts
ALA (omega-3) LA (omega-6)
Avocado 0.04 0.47
Flaxseed 6.45 1.67
Olive 0.02 0.24
Pine Nuts 0.22 7.03
Walnuts 2.57 10.76
Banana 0.06 0.10
Blueberry 0.13 0.20
Cabbage 0.08 0.06
Fig 0.00 0.33
Kale 0.41 0.31
Kiwi 0.10 0.56
Mango 0.08 0.03
Oranges 0.02 0.04
Papaya 0.01 0.06
Peaches 0.00 0.19
Pineapple 0.04 0.05
Romaine lettuce 0.26 0.11
Strawberries 0.15 0.20
Tomatoes 0.01 0.18

Above information taken from The 80/10/10 Diet by Dr. Douglas N. Graham pages 117-118.

1 oz. Fatty Fruits/Nuts
ALA (omega-3) LA (omega-6)
Almonds <0.10 3.40
Brazil Nuts <0.10 5.80
Cashews <0.10 2.20
Chia Seeds 5.10 1.70
Coconut Meat 0.00 0.10
Filbert/Hazelnuts <0.10 2.20
Hemp Seeds 2.70 7.30
Hickory Nuts 0.30 5.80
Macadamia Nuts 0.10 0.40
Pecans 0.30 5.80
Pistachio Nuts 0.10 3.80
Pumpkin Seeds <0.10 5.90
Sesame Seeds 0.10 6.10
Sunflower Seeds <0.10 6.50

The above information was taken from which uses the UDSA database for nutritional information for the majority of its items.

Information for this article was obtained from the following sources:

Eat to Live by Joel Fuhrman, M.D.

The 80/10/10 Diet by Dr. Douglas N. Graham

The Franklin Institute –

T. Colin Campbell/Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine –[backPid]=76&cHash=8b1e1b992f

National Center for Biotechnology Information/US National Library of Medicine –



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Glycemic Index and Glycemic Load

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You have probably heard of the glycemic index, which is a measure of the rate at which ingested food causes blood sugar to rise.  The reason we hear about this is that high blood sugars levels are linked to many diseases such as Candida, chronic fatigue, hyperglycemia, hypoglycemia, diabetes and even cancer.

Here is the glycemic index (GI) rating scale:

  • Low 55 or less
  • Medium 56-69
  • High 70 or higher

Food ranked low on the scale would cause a small rise in blood sugar while a food ranked high would cause a dramatic rise in blood sugar.

People have been told to avoid some fruits because they are ranked high on the glycemic index (GI) scale.

But isn’t fruit a health food?

Yes it is!  There is more to the GI story and that is glycemic load (GL).

What is glycemic load, I am sure you are asking yourself.

Glycemic load is a relatively new way to assess the impact of eating carbohydrate foods.  The GI value tells you only how rapidly a carbohydrate turns into sugar and it doesn’t tell you how much of the carbohydrate is in a serving of a food.

To understand the effect a particular food has on your blood sugar you need to know both, the glycemic index and the glycemic load.

Here is the glycemic load (GL) rating scale:

  • Low 10 or less
  • Medium 11 to 19
  • High 20 or more

For example, Watermelon has a glycemic index of 72 but its glycemic load is only 4.

How is GL calculated?

The formula is GL = (GI x the amount of available carbohydrate in a 100g serving) divided by 100.

To use our watermelon example: The GI is 72; the carbohydrate in 100g serving is 5g.

(72 x 5g)  / 100 = 3.6 rounded to 4.

From this example you can see that at first glance you might want to avoid eating watermelon based on its high glycemic index but after determining the glycemic load is only 4 you will probably change your mind…that is if you like watermelon.

The reason the glycemic load is so low for watermelon is that it contains a lot of water.  Fruits and vegetables rank as low or medium on the GL scale because they contain water.

Here is a listing of foods and their GL and GI taken from The 80/10/10 Diet by Dr. Douglas N. Graham and from my own calculations.

Fruits – listed in

order of GL

Glycemic Index (GI)

Low   Medium High

1-55   56-69    70+

Glycemic Load (GL)

Low   Medium  High

1-10    11-19      20+

Strawberries 40 1
Grapefruit 25 3
Blackberries 32 3
Pears 38 4
Watermelon 72 4
Cantaloupe 65 4
Cherries 22 4
Raspberries 32 4
Plums 39 4
Peaches 42 5
Oranges 42 5
Apples 38 6
Blueberries 40 6
Apricots 57 6
Pineapple 59 7
Grapes 46 8
Kiwifruit, green 53 8
Mango 56 8
Bananas 52 12
Raisins 64 73
Dates 103 77


Starchy vegetables, grains  and other complex carbohydrates – listed in order of GL

Glycemic Index (GI)

Low   Medium High

1-55   56-69    70+

Glycemic Load (GL)

Low   Medium  High

1-10    11-19      20+

Carrots 47 3
Beets 64 5
Bran cereal 42 8
Popcorn 72 8
Corn, sweet 54 9
Whole wheat bread 71 9
Wild rice 57 18
Spaghetti 42 20
White rice 64 23
Cous cous 65 23
Baked potatoes 85 26
Sweet potatoes 61 27



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FAQ – Can I really eat only one food for a meal?

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Yes, you can!

This practice is also known as mono eating or mono meals.

What are the benefits of eating one food at a meal?

  • Ideal digestion, absorption and assimilation, which equals maximum nutrition.
  • Mono eating also helps prevent over eating.  Eating a variety of foods at a meal increases the chances of overeating as each food stimulates the appetite with its own unique taste sensation.  You may feel satisfied but if another food is introduced your appetite is once again aroused.
  • Eliminates indigestion…unless you eat too much.
  • Conserves energy.  We have all had that tired feeling after eating a big meal.  This is because the body is working hard to digest all of the different foods we have eaten.  Eating one food at a time does not tire our body so we can use this energy to do something else…get more done or have some fun!

What about variety?

  • Traditionally we are taught that at every meal we need to include a variety of foods to meet our nutritional requirements.  This is not true.  Variety is obtained over time (can be as long as a month or two) not at every meal.
  • Fruits are complete as is.  Fruits contain almost all of our needed nutrients in the correct proportions.  The body anticipates and prepares for our future needs and has the ability to store need nutrients for future use.
  • Variety in our meals is hard on the body.  Digestion is difficult so this leads to poor absorption and assimilation.
  • Animals traditionally eat one food at a time until they are full and we can too.

How do I get started?

Try one of the following.  Eat until you are satiated – your hunger is satisfied.   The goal is to be able to eat enough fruit to satisfy yourself until your next meal.

  • 4 or 5 bananas
  • 4 or 5 cups of grapes
  • 4 or 5 cups of sliced mangoes
  • 10 Cups diced watermelon

I no longer prepare food or drink with more than one ingredient.  Cyra McFadden



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Fat Facts

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This past couple of weeks I have written about carbohydrates and protein.  Today I would like to talk about fat.

How much fat do we currently eat?

According to Dr. Doug Graham, Americans consume one-third to one-half of their calories as fat.  Or said another way 33% to 50% of the calories in their diets come from fat.  He believes the average to be about 42%.

Why do we need fat?

Fat is a source of essential fatty acids and is source of all fat-soluble vitamins.  Fat is essential for the production of hormones.  Fat insulates the body and protects us from cold and heat.  Fats play a vital role in maintaining healthy skin and hair, insulating body organs against shock and promote healthy cell function.

What are the results of eating too much fat?

Eating too much fat can result in the under eating of carbohydrates to maintain weight.  The consequences of this include lethargy, cravings, bingeing, and emotional instability.  Overeating fat while under eating in terms of total calories can result in over eating of some nutrients and under eating of others.  Lastly, overeating fat and overeating for total calories leads to being overweight, obesity, lethargy, digestive illnesses, and a reduced life span.  In addition, the under eating of carbohydrates (fruits and vegetables) can leave us nutritionally deficient.

So…How much fat do we really need?

I believe Dr. Doug Graham is right on with his 80/10/10 diet.  I know that when I follow this format and my fat consumption is at 10% or less over time, I feel the best.

Aside from my opinion, others support this belief as well.  Over the years I am sure you have heard of the Pritikin Diet and Ornish Diet created by Dr Dean Ornish, both of these diets recommend a diet that is 10% in fat or less.  These diets have high rates of success for heart disease reversal and have lead to greater health for many people.

Dr. Graham’s book, The 80/10/10 Diet lists a number of physicians and PhDs that are famous for their work in nutrition and have written about the health benefits associated with reducing dietary fat consumption.  These include John McDougall, Michael Klaper, William Harris, Ruth Heidrich, Michael Greger, and Neal Barnard.

How can I eat a diet with only 10% fat?

The easiest way that I have found to achieve this goal is eating a diet of fresh, whole, ripe fruits and vegetables with limited nuts, seeds and avocadoes.   If you are just starting out, shoot for getting your fat calories to be less than 20%. Once you have achieved the target you can work on lowering it.  To track your calories and percent of carbs, protein and fat in your diet go to and create an account.  Here you will be able to log the food you eat and see exactly where the fat is in your diet.  You do not have to eat 10% or less every day but you should average 10% or less overtime.

Good luck!

Raw Food Rocks!



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Where do you get your protein – Again….

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We have probably all heard this question, that is, if we are not practicing the Standard American Diet (SAD).

How do you answer the question?  My husband (a vegetarian for 35 years before going raw) usually says, “Have you ever heard of someone with a protein deficiency? I haven’t.”  For him, this usually ends the conversation.  However, some people are persistent and want to convert you back to the dark side by insisting you have to eat meat and dairy to get your protein.

So what else can you say to those who believe we need to eat lots of animal protein?

What are the official guidelines for protein?

The World Health Organizations report DIET, NUTRITION AND THE PREVENTION OF CHRONIC DISEASES lists on page 56 the nutrient goals it recommends and gives protein as 10-15%.

What is the purpose of protein in our diet?

Protein is needed for growth.  If you are an adult, you no longer need protein for this.  Protein is also needed for replacing worn out cells and repairing injuries to your body.

How much protein does the average American eat?

According to Dr. Doug Graham in his book The 80/10/10 Diet the average American, eats 16% protein.  He also states that this number has been consistent the past 40 years.  So for all the talk about needing more protein and Americans thinking they need to eat more protein, protein consumption has been stable.

What happens when we eat too much protein?

Osteoporosis and tooth decay are problems associated with high protein consumption.  Why is this?  Protein foods predominant minerals are the acidic minerals – chorine, phosphorus, and sulfur.  Proteins are acid forming in the body.  The body likes to maintain a neutral to slightly alkaline state.  After eating acid forming foods, the body returns back to its neutral state by removing calcium from our bloodstream.  The calcium in our bloodstream is then replenished by removing from our bones and teeth.

Other illness associated with the over-consumption of protein includes cancer, arthritis, premature aging, impaired liver function, kidney failure, and autoimmune diseases.

What is the best source of protein?

Most of us have been taught that we must eat animal products to get our needed protein and that this protein is of the highest quality.  But what does this mean?  The highest quality protein designation is given to animals because it has the right amount of amino acids.  Plants proteins have been called lower quality proteins because some are lacking in one or more of the essential amino acids.  However, as a group they contain all of the essential amino acids.

According to T. Colin Campbell in his book, The China Study the concept of quality really means the efficiency with which food proteins are used to promote growth.  He goes on to say, this would be well and good if the greatest efficiency equaled the greatest health, but it does not.  His research proves that plant proteins provide for better health even though they are considered lower quality.

See the FAQ’s for a list of plant foods that have all 8 essential amino acids.

Where should we get our protein?

Fruits and vegetables contain adequate amounts of protein to meet our needs as long as we consume enough calories to meet our needs.  The list below shows the percent of calories for carbohydrates, protein and fats for 100 grams of the fruit or vegetable.

Percent of calories from: Carbohydrate Protein Fat
Apples 95 2 3
Apricots 84 10 6
Banana 93 4 3
Basil 52 31 17
Broccoli 70 20 10
Cabbage 76 20 4
Carrots 90 6 4
Celery 74 17 9
Cherries, Sweet 91 6 3
Cilantro 53 30 17
Corn 78 10 12
Cucumber 69 19 12
Figs 93 4 3
Grapes 95 3 2
Kale 72 16 12
Lettuce, Green Leaf 63 30 7
Orange 90 6 4
Parsley 57 27 16
Peaches 86 8 6
Pepper, Green 78 15 7
Pepper, Red 78 13 9
Romaine 65 23 12
Spinach 54 31 15
Strawberries 85 7 8
Tomato 75 17 8
Watermelon 87 7 6
Zucchini 72 18 10

If we consume enough calories of fresh fruits and vegetables then we should have no problem in meeting our protein requirements on a raw food diet.




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FAQ – Where do you get your protein?

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This question has several answers.

Protein is in all fruits and vegetables. Below is a chart of the percent of calories of carbohydrates, protein, and fat in some fruits and vegetables. You can see that most vegetables and greens have a high percentage of protein. If you consume enough calories to meet your needs, you shouldn’t have to worry about getting enough protein.

Percent of calories from: Carbohydrate Protein Fat
Banana 93 4 3
Basil 52 31 17
Cabbage 76 20 4
Celery 74 17 9
Cilantro 53 30 17
Cucumber 69 19 12
Orange 90 6 4
Parsley 57 27 16
Pepper, Green 78 15 7
Pepper, Red 78 13 9
Romaine 65 23 12
Tomato 75 17 8

We have been ‘taught’ through marketing that we need enormous amounts of protein to be healthy. We do need protein but the truth is, is that most Americans consume twice the amount of protein they need daily.
Protein is made up of amino acids, which are the building blocks of protein. When we eat protein, our body must digest it to convert it to amino acids. Eating our natural diet (raw foods) the protein comes to us predigested as amino acids. Our bodies can only use amino acids or proteins that have been digested and have not been heated. Amino acids start to be destroyed at 118 degrees Fahrenheit and almost all are destroyed at 160 degrees.

Complete Protein Foods with all 8 essential amino acids
Almonds, bananas, brazil nuts, brussel sprouts, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, coconut, corn, cucumbers, flax seed, hazel nuts, kale, pecans, pumpkin seeds, squash seed, summer squash, sunflower seeds, tomatoes, and walnuts.



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FAQ – Don’t you feel hungry all the time?

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Don’t you feel hungry all the time?

I don’t feel hungry all the time. When I first started with raw foods, I did feel hungry some of the time. There were a couple of reasons for this.

First, I was not eating enough fruit. The people I was talking to kept stressing that I had to eat lots of greens to stay healthy on the raw diet. The problem with eating greens is that green vegetables and salads do not have many calories. Therefore, I was trying to eat many greens and didn’t eat enough fruit.

Second, no one talked about the volume of food I needed to eat and even when they did, it was a hard concept for me to understand.

For example, a small McDonald’s hamburger, a small french fries and a small regular soda for dinner is a total of 745 calories. You would have to eat seven medium size bananas to get that many calories. If you put the seven bananas next to the burger and fries, you can see that you have to eat more food on a raw food diet to get the same amount of calories.

I got better at understanding the amount of food I needed to eat after reading Dr. Doug Graham’s book, The 80/10/10 Diet and participating in his diet-coaching program.



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FAQ – Why do raw foods work over other diet choices?

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Raw foods work because it is our natural diet.

Our natural diet is the diet we were designed to eat.  All living things have their natural diet and we are no different.

From Ross Horne’s book Health and Survival in the 21st Century, he states, “The study of comparative anatomy and the different natural diets of animals in the wild indicates strongly that the natural diet of early humans consisted predominantly of sweet fruits, and that even though millions of years have passed, the anatomy and digestive apparatus of humans has not changed and is therefore still best suited to fruit as the most suitable food.”

Our bodies were not designed to eat cooked food.

Since raw foods are our natural diet, it is hard to overeat when eating our natural diet of fruits and vegetables.

Fruits and vegetables are not calorie dense foods like cooked and processed foods.  One needs to consume a larger volume of food on a raw food diet as compared to a cooked food diet.  Because you need to eat a larger volume of food you will feel full eating less calories. We still need to be sure to limit our eating of high fat foods like nuts, seeds, coconuts and avocados because these foods are calorie dense.



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FAQ – Why are raw foods special?

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Raw foods are special because they contain all of the nutrients our bodies need to be healthy.

Raw foods are easy for our body to digest and assimilate the nutrients.  By supplying the body with proper nutrition along with pure air and water, regular exercise and rest, our chances for vibrant health increase dramatically. Raw foods and eating simply reduces our carbon footprint because we are not cooking the food.  We also generate less garbage because fruit and vegetables have very little packaging. Because no animal products are eaten this lessens the environmental damages from factory farms.  Factory farms use valuable resources such as water and food that could be used for human consumption.



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