Raw food has its benefits: it contains more nutrients and enzymes than cooked food, and the life that animates each cell of an uncooked vegetable, sprouted grain or legume, nut, or fruit also invigorates your pranic (energetic) body. But according to ayurveda, the heat that’s generated during the cooking process partially digests the food for you, and liberates nutrients so that they are more available for assimilation. Raw food, in turn, requires more agni, or digestive fire, to process than cooked food.
To determine how much raw food is right for your diet, pay attention to the strength of your digestion. If your metabolism is weak and you eat sprouts, they may cause gas, bloating, and constipation. Eating raw food may also throw you off balance when you’re feeling worn out or ungrounded. But when you feel warm and clearheaded—signs of strong agni—eating raw food can have an energizing effect on your body and mind. Make sure to chew it thoroughly, and if you feel nourished by it, go ahead and help yourself to the salad bar.