A lot of movie stars and athletes have nothing but praise for the raw vegan diet – where nothing is cooked, or derived from animals. But is it really good for you? Here’s a True/False test to help you find out:

  • True or False: Cooking destroys nutrients. It’s a little of both. Mayo Clinic dietician Jennifer Nelson says that cooking reduces levels of vitamin C, and certain B vitamins. But it also breaks down plant fibers to help release certain nutrients, which our body simply can’t get from raw food. For example, cooking tomatoes increases levels of the antioxidant lycopene by 500 percent.

  • True or False: Heat destroys the digestive enzymes in food. That’s true. But that’s no reason to go raw according to nutrition expert Dr. John McDougall, who’s a confirmed vegetarian. That’s because we make our own digestive enzymes. Plus, most of the enzymes in raw food are immediately destroyed by our stomach acid, anyway.

  • True or False: Raw foods are healthier. That’s actually False. Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn is the author of Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease. And he says that raw food vegans have a hard time getting sufficient amounts of a lot of vitamins, minerals, and omega-3 fatty acids. We adults can get away with it for a while, because our bodies have had time to store nutrients. But a child raised on a raw vegan diet will probably end up with neurological problems. They can also have growth issues – like body shakes and rickets – because they simply didn’t get enough vitamin D, vitamin B12, and other essential nutrients that come mostly from meat and dairy. So, if you’re thinking of raising your child on a raw, vegan diet, talk to a nutritionist ASAP, and make sure you follow their advice – even if it deviates from your adult raw diet.