5 “Raw” Foods We Don’t Think Are As Healthy As Everyone Says : Exclusive Renegade Health Article

Thursday Jul 7 | BY |
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cacao flowers
Some of these flowers will turn into cacao pods the size of a mini football… it’s pretty freaking amazing, right? (Quepos, Costa Rica)

When we first got into raw food, we wanted to try everything…

And we did.

Some foods we thought were raw, but they really weren’t.

Other foods, we realized may not be best eaten raw.

Some foods we ate too much of.

And finally, some food we ate just didn’t sit right after a while.

Today, I wanted to give you a list of “raw” foods (some really raw, others questionably not) that we just don’t tend to bother with anymore.

This doesn’t mean that we avoid them to the point of abstinence, but we do make sure we don’t bring any of them into the house because they’re either outright unhealthy, or we don’t react well when we eat them.

Let’s rock…

1. Agave Syrup.

I don’t care if it’s clear, blue or brown, something to me is fishy about agave.

A few years ago, I did my part in spreading the news about this suspicious sweetener with information regarding it’s high fructose content, possible dubious corn syrup additives, and it’s questionable raw processing.

Here are the reasons we’ve dropped this food in the order of importance to me.

First, a trial study on diabetics done by the Glycemic Research Institute had to be stopped due to unusual and potentially dangerous side effects caused by ingestion agave. Since agave syrup is considered low glycemic, this group wanted to see if it was safe for diabetics (who need to keep their blood sugar in check.)

Apparently, it was not safe. My best guess is that because fructose is processed directly in the liver, the addition of agave put a cog in just about every detoxification process in these patients. Also, since agave syrup (raw or not) is processed fructose, just like high fructose corn syrup, there is no difference in its effects on diabetics – it’s not good.

You can read all about this stopped trial and other agave syrup negative info here: http://www.glycemic.com/AgaveReport.htm

Second, whether it’s raw or not, it’s still high fructose agave syrup (just the same as corn syrup – as I mentioned above.

Third, it tastes too good to be true. LOL!

Finally, we really don’t need too much excess sugar. We tend to use fruits or fruit sugar to sweeten our foods if we even sweeten them at all. Reading Gary Taubes’ recent book “Why We Get Fat”, seems to shed light as to why this is a good idea. Processed sugars, no matter what kind, make us fat.

2. Nama Shoyu.

I’m not against fermented soy products. In fact, I think they have their place in a healthy diet, particularly considering their use in Asian cuisine for thousands and thousands of years.

We don’t use nama shoyu anymore for two reasons.

First, nama shoyu is processed with wheat. Annmarie is somewhat sensitive to gluten – we think this may be a reason why her TSH is slightly elevated. So when she eats nama shoyu, she doesn’t feel so hot.

Second, when we both eat any raw food with nama shoyu, we wake up the next morning with swollen hands the size of baseball mitts. (Well maybe not that big, but our fingers look like hot dogs.)

This is because of the high sodium content. We’ve tried the low sodium nama shoyu as well, but it still causes us to puff up.

My advice to you, if it makes you swollen, leave it alone.

3. Raw Chocolate.

Probably not the most popular on this list, but it’s the truth.

After my experience with eating too much raw chocolate, I burnt out my adrenals pretty badly.

I completely understand that I ate too much, but even eating a little bit (about once every 3 months) these days gives me symptoms of adrenal burnout. These include cold hands and feet, agitation, sensitivity to noises and inability to sleep.

As you can imagine, I’m very sensitive to these things these days. I know how badly adrenal burnout can make you feel and how challenging it can be to recover, so I make sure I stay as clean as possible – at least when it comes to stimulants.

I’m not saying that you shouldn’t ever eat chocolate – or any of these foods I’m mentioning here – I’m just saying that each of these foods has their downside and because of that we’ve decided to do our best to avoid them.

A few other things about chocolate that I think you should know about…

First, up until very recently a big distributor called ELF (Essential Living Foods) was distributing chocolate to many retailers (ones that you probably know) that never was raw at all. They’ve now switched to a higher, more raw product thankfully. Though I’d seriously consider buying something from a company that didn’t do their homework for almost a decade.

Second, I truly don’t know how chocolate can really be raw, since I’ve seen processing in Costa Rica and Peru that really couldn’t be classified as heated under 120 or so degrees. Sun-drying anything will heat it much higher than that temperature at least on the surface and maybe even deeper.

Thirdly, should chocolate really be eaten raw anyway? Assuming what I told you above was correct, is there even a history of eating chocolate seeds raw? Most of the research I’ve done have indicated that the seeds traditionally have been eaten sun-dried.

How important is that? I don’t know, but it’s something to think about.

Anyway, regardless of where you on this subject, I can guarantee you that less is better.

4. Maca.

I wrote a whole article on maca here (Is Maca Really a Superfood) recently.

While I think it is a superfood, I also think it’s not for some people – myself definitely.

The stuff just makes me feel weird when I eat it. It’s an agitated, antsy, not-really-right feeling. That’s about as best as I can describe it.

I feel like a how I think a mean person would feel all the time when I eat it.

Maca has a strong history in Peru, so I’m not concerned that it’s something we should avoid outright like agave, but I do want more people to figure out how it feels for them and be conscious about it.

One other thing, that I mentioned in the article above on maca, and is worth mentioning again is that maca is not traditionally eaten raw and as far as I know never was.

5. Heavy nut dishes.

When we first got into raw foods, we were always eating nut-tunas and nut-pates and nut-spreads.

Nowadays, my stomach hurts just thinking about eating them.

It took me a while to realize that the gas and stomach bloating I was getting after going to a raw food restaurant was directly attributed to the intense amount of fat in the meals that I was eating.

While some people can handle a large amount of nuts, I for one cannot. They just don’t sit right – when I eat them they seem to alchemically transform into 45 pound dumbbells in my stomach.

There are a few reasons why this can be happening…

First, nuts, if unsoaked can be even more difficult to digest than if soaked. Some people do a good job about soaking them, others don’t.

Second, if you don’t have enough minerals in your diet, you may not be able to produce enough alkaline salts to neutralize your stomach acid as it enters into your stomach. So if you’re eating a lot of nuts, you’ll require more salts (contained in bile) and eventually you’ll have a digestive imbalance that can trigger a whole range of issues – from inflammation in the gut, to autoimmune issues, to infection.

Third, how many nuts should we really eat? If I was in a loin cloth 10,000 years ago and I came across a nut tree and a fruit tree side by side, I wouldn’t spend too much time trying to break open the hard shells of the nuts. I’d go straight for the easy “kill.”

Eating a bag of almonds in one sitting defies what nature has likely intended – nuts as a special treat, not as a eat-to-many-and-feel-sluggish-afterwords everyday occurrence.

So to wrap this all up, keep in mind, these are just foods that we’ve eliminated from our diets. Also, when I say eliminated I don’t mean that they never pass our lips – from time to time they may.

What I do know about these foods is that less, or maybe even none of a particular one, may help solve some of the little issues you may be having with your diet.

If you happen to eat one or more, I’d give yourself a break from it for 2 weeks (a 2 Week Elimination Challenge) and see how you feel.

If you feel better, then you’re on to something.

If you don’t, then line up something else that you suspect may be an issue.

I want to know your thoughts: Have you eliminated any of these foods?

Live Awesome!

Kevin Gianni

Kevin Gianni is a health author, activist and blogger. He started seriously researching personal and preventative natural health therapies in 2002 when he was struck with the reality that cancer ran deep in his family and if he didn’t change the way he was living — he might go down that same path. Since then, he’s written and edited 6 books on the subject of natural health, diet and fitness. During this time, he’s constantly been humbled by what experts claim they know and what actually is true. This has led him to experiment with many diets and protocols — including vegan, raw food, fasting, medical treatments and more — to find out what is myth and what really works in the real world.

Kevin has also traveled around the world searching for the best protocols, foods, medicines and clinics around and bringing them to the readers of his blog RenegadeHealth.com — which is one of the most widely read natural health blogs in the world with hundreds of thousands of visitors a month from over 150 countries around the world.


Comments are closed for this post.

  1. Jaya says:

    Great topic! I was just thinking of blogging on almost the same topic. Agave was going to be my number 1 too! We were all so gung ho at the beginning of the raw food movement. Always thinking raw was best no matter what traditions had been doing for thousands of years. Good to teach to listen to your body. That’s the best authority!

  2. Annette says:

    Hi Kevin,

    I don’t do well with Maca either. I had adrenal burnout about 11years ago and find I am sensitive to things which stimulate them too much and maca is one of them. Also, agave is something I won’t be going near again. I’ve only used it once but I read about it on another big health website and that author goes right into the detail of how it is as bad as high fructose corn syrup.

    Keep up the good work!

  3. I wonder if there is any correlation to the concept of the more difficult a food is to open, the less of that food we should be eating. Bananas and oranges and avocados are easy; just peel and enjoy. Greens are easy; just wash and eat. Then I think about a coconut and my $40 knife I bought for just getting coconut meat and water…well, I guess I could always just crack it on a rock, lose the water and enjoy the meat from it.

    We don’t use agave anymore; just fruits, especially dates, for intense sweetening, and that done not too frequently–special occasions, etc.

  4. great stuff…i am especially disgusted with the amount of nuts used in most raw food recipes and restauratns!! just the thought makes me naseous. Nuts come in shells for a reason= nature did not intend them to be eaten by the handfuls in large quanitites!!

  5. Gail Jensen says:

    Wow. I got elated seeing what you wrote about Maca. That is EXACTLY how I feel, and my THOUGHTS exactly, too – like how a mean person probably feels all the time. So bizarre you said the exact same things.

    I’m not too fond of agave either. Had one that made me feel funny and one that didn’t and was actually pretty good. But, I would just prefer not to.

    Hey, does ginseng make you feel like Maca does because sometimes ginseng does that, too.

  6. Anne says:

    I don’t use agave anymore either. I fact I don’t use any kind of sweetener or fruits apart from the lemon/lime and unsweetened cranberry juice.

    I don’t eat Chocolate/Cacao either probably for the same reasons you don’t. Not because I ate too much of it but because I’m trying to heal my adrenals and don’t want to take anything that would stimulate them.

    Still having some maca in my recovery drinks and smoothies but much less then I used to and will transition to Ashwangandha when my current batch is over.

    Never had Nama Shoyu but used to used Wheat free tamari (low sodium) but don’t anymore and don’t miss it either.

    Nuts, are my weakness. I love them but I find them difficult to digest. Soaking them takes far too much pre planning as I don’t know what I want to eat tomorrow. I take turns trying Almonds at times, pecans, brazil nuts and walnuts and I find some are better than others but overall they are hard to digest.

  7. Anna says:

    I also gave up agave when the information came out about it. I sometimes use coconut syrup or crystals but wonder if this too, will be too good to be true. I’m wondering if anyone out there has a reaction to stevia? If I have stevia powder it hypes me up and makes me jittery.

  8. Pati says:

    Many years ago I made a decision to go off dairy and replaced the butter on my toast with peanut butter. After about a week of that I had serious gall bladder trouble! I thought it odd that my gall bladder would like dairy butter and cheese better than nuts and nut butter but I switched to coconut oil on my toast and my gall bladder likes that choice a lot!

  9. I agree with you, for people who have high sensitivities. I know I don’t do well with a lot of nuts, I hardly ever have nama shoyu, and yes agave is no good! However, cacao = my favorite : )

  10. Cindy Yacob says:

    Good article Kevin. I was having TMJ (jaw)trouble the last couple of weeks and dropped the nuts since I had to stay away from crunchy foods. Guess what-my digestion runs perfectly now!

  11. If Maca makes you feel mean it might have more to do with how it affects you liver as opposed to your adrenals. raw chocolate does the same thing to me. it’s hard to process and if you’re already a little stressed it makes it hard for your liver to handle it and creates tension.
    chocolate isn’t meant to be eaten raw. it should only be consumed in dark chocolate truffles—plain or raspberry!
    a little goes a long way with chocolate, maca and nuts.

  12. linda says:

    I will not allow any type of soy product into my body. Dr. Anne DeWeese Allen, noble prize nominated Dr, says it is toxic to your body, and it is being pushed by the soybean industry and farmers, as a food source. Her simple explanation is as follows, A deer will not go into a soy bean field, they know that if they consume soy beans it is toxic to them and they will die. So it is up to you, but I would suggest not putting an soy bean products in your body or even on your skin.

  13. Tracy says:

    It’s the nuts, I think, for me. I like them and eat them for their protein and as a substitute for a snack like chips, if a craving hits. However, they sit in my gut like lead. Plus, I have added fat to my frame since including nuts more consciously in my diet and haven’t been able to rid myself of it despite other positive changes in diet and exercise. So, I’m going to try what you suggested in your article and give my body a two-week break to see how I do. My guess is: a lot better. Thank you! I just needed some confirmation and a little push, I guess.

  14. Jacque says:

    As you stated, some can do well with nuts and others can’t. We are all different somewhat, in the way we can tolerate certain foods. Obviously some foods are out, such as fast foods….actually they are not even foods, but I think you know what I mean. Most people on this site probably have an awareness of various “good” foods. I think each and every one of us has to go through a process of trial and error, just like Kevin did with the nuts and the chocolate. Try the food, listen to your body, and proceed from there. It’s a life-long journey. Also, don’t eat the same thing every day. Put variety into your diet!

  15. Anna21 says:

    Not all foods were meant to be eaten raw. A few examples that come to mind are Cocoa, Maca (a goitrogen unless it is cooked), elderberries (toxic when raw, a powerful healer when cooked), tough fibrous greens (kale, cabbage, etc), Goji Berries (cooked in China & were not eaten raw in large quantities like raisins as we do in the West).

    People need release this raw food dogma/ obssession. Historically, there have not been any cultures that lived on a raw or mostly raw diet. Some foods are perfectly healthy raw, and others are best cooked. Eating too many raw foods can led to energetic imbalances (cold & damp conditions in Traditional Chinese Medicine) & a chronically low body temparature which weakens the immune system.

    The best approach to prepare foods is to ask yourself, how was this food traditionally prepared, before the influence of the modern industrial age? Grains were soaked & fermented, then cooked (and not in a microwave, lol). Potatoes were cooked. Maca was (still is) cooked. Cocoa was fermented in the sun. Goji Berries were cooked & used sparingly in stews. There was a profound wisdom behind many of the preparation processes, which many people today find burdensome or too time-consuming. However, people that still prepare foods in the traditional way do not suffer from the myriad of ‘modern’ diseases that we do, gut flora imbalances or the epidemic of digestive disorders. Yet, they did not follow raw diets.

  16. estheraida says:

    I love maca! I add it to my hemp, banana, date smoothie all the time. I feel extra super with it! Maybe it’s because I’m of latina heritage?

    I don’t do cacoa, but I never have been into the taste of chocolate even as a little chaparita!

    Not into any soy sauces and agave too!

    I agree about the nut thing! A small handfull is enough for me. Or actually I like nuts better in a sauce or smoothie.


  17. Candice says:

    I never got into maca much, and the other ingredients are things I eat in moderation. I have nuts most days, but rarely more than 1/4 cup. I’m not a big chocolate fan, but when I have it in small amounts, I consider it a treat, not a health food. And I agree that the concentrated sweetness of “raw” agave is too good to be true! I still use it, just not a lot.

    Thanks for the list!

  18. Velda says:

    Great article, Kevin. At the moment, I don’t eat agave or chocolate much (even though I love chocolate). I used to make a “healthy” hot chocolate with almond milk and whole-cane organic sugar, each night during the winter months. The only thing I realize from it (other than it being a comfort food) is that is makes me gain weight. That is weight that I then have a hard time losing.

    I have bought Maca a couple of times because I have burned-out adrenals. However, I don’t notice any difference when I use it or don’t use it. I also use Ashwangandha. I use them both in my morning shake. The only reason I was using them is because of the claimed benefits to the adrenals. However, I’ve been thinking about dropping the Maca just because of the expense and I can’t tell any difference.

    I had thought agave was good and suggested my diabetic Dad us it. I think I will let him know it might not be good for him.

    Great information, thanks so much!!

  19. Mark says:

    Yes, eliminated (or never tried) all of the above! Never felt good eating cacao or lots of nuts and the rest just never felt the need to try.

  20. Michele Comeau says:

    Kevin, Soooooooo appreciate your honesty!!!! Thanks for the terrific information.

  21. Joy Houston says:

    As a big fan of your content and an experienced raw food chef and eater, I vouch for the validity of your commentary on these foods. That said, I would much rather see people switch from the S.A.D. diet and eat mock meats and cheeses, raw chocolates & agave, and even use maca for a boost instead of coffee or drugs. Once their system cleans up a bit, they will naturally progress as you have. I see it over and over as I help people “ween” off the S.A.D. About a month or two into their change, they naturally start to feel “nut gut”, the effects of the agave, sensitivity to maca, etc. etc. From there, with out the additives, hormones, and whacked out chemicals affecting their body & their outlook, it is easy to transition them to an even lighter, cleaner diet.
    These foods can make healthy(er) stepping stones to where you are now.

    Thanks for all you do!

  22. Marilyn says:

    The only item I eat from the above list is Maca. I attribute the restoration of my endocrine system to maca. That being said maca is not for everyone. If I’ve learned one thing it is to listen to my body and when it says “no” it means “no”!

  23. How do you know if you have adrenal difficulties?

    I only notice that I get drowsy a few hours after having a superfood smoothie with ground almonds, raw egg, greens, garlic, banana, avocado, raw cocoa (I think), local honey, coconut milk, yogurt, and rice oil. But, I’m not hungary again for 4 to 6 hours.

    I think I’m quite healthy. Next week I’ll be 75, and I still run, swim, and mountain bike, in addition to pushups and pull-ups.

  24. Robin Janis says:

    So while I try to follow a significanty raw, dairy free, tofu free, nut free (does this apply to seeds as well??) gluten free diet, meat free diet but I a still need grounding in today’s sound-bite, hyper- drive world– how should that be done given the above??? Of course agave is almost pure fructose and chocolate is totally a stimulant; but where should I get the protein if not from nut butters, seeds– not fats as coconut and avocado fulfill that need, but good solid protein?

  25. Cj says:

    first time I tried maca, about 1/8 tsp, my heart raced for 4 hours and then some .. it really scared me .. I’ve been too afraid to try it again … I have always been sensitive to supplements and medications so that’s why I started with so little.

    while I like nuts in things, my biggest problem is the expense, so I have limited my nuts primarily to walnuts, which are beneficial to my blood type and make a dehydrated walnut/zucchini/flaxseed/hempseed flatbread/cracker which doesn’t give me too many walnuts at a time when I eat a cracker or two occasionally with fruit. I seem to tolerate those well, but not cashews and not coconuts (limiting a lot of “gourmet” raw dishes)

    fortunately I never made raw desserts and never got into the agave when it was promoted and so don’t feel the loss now. whenever I have sweetened anything it has been with a date, but I’m more of a savory person rather than sweet, so I don’t do that a lot either. tho I have liked cacao, but have learned carob is beneficial for me so I may switch to that.

    and I’m wheat sensitive so I’ve avoided namu shoyu and just never got into making foods that call for it to attempt to substitute with other things I’ve bought and they just sit unopened in my cupboard. I guess I eat pretty simply when all is said and done, but not necessarily because of principle, just time constraints and taste.

    I do have a question, tho, about rejuvelac and if that is really as healthy as they say, especially if one is wheat sensitive? have you addressed this before? and I just learned alfalfa sprouts and spirulina are to be avoided on my blood type .. sigh …

  26. Robin Janis says:

    PS: with all due respect, why Kev are you selling almonds if you feel nuts should be essentially eliminated from the good healthy alive diet???

  27. Stacey says:

    Great article. This all makes SOooooo much sense. Can you tell me though please what substitutes you’d recommend for wen a recipe calls for a sweetener and a salty liquid. For sweetener syrups – I have heard of Yacon syrup and Jerusalem Artichoke syrup and also lucuma powder. Are these OK in your opinion? And instead of Nama Shoyu – how about Braggs liquid aminos?

  28. Niraja Golightly says:

    Kevin: Coconut Bliss is my only agave downfall right now. I’m hoping that once the worst of my cancer treatments are over and I can go back to 80% raw diet with regular detoxes, that particular desire/craving will fall away once again. In the meantime I am already whacked out but not as bad as I would be without my substantially healthful diet and spiritual practices including music, dancing, chanting, and breathwork. My mom, sisters, and I used to dance every morning to high energy positive music. I definitely think you should add them to your list of health practices.

  29. Dan Hegerich says:


    Did you ever consider that chocolate did not burn out your adrenals? Further consider that you were eating chocolate because of adrenal dysfunction, nutritional deficiencies and/or emotional eating. It’s like saying alcohol creates alcoholics.


  30. Sueann says:

    I worked with two beekeepers and I use honey. It is a natural raw honey, meaning it isn’t processed to 160 degrees. It comes from the hive and filtered once. I buy it buy the five gallon bucket size and it lasts a while, and I know where it is coming from and I worked with the beekeepers to experience the euphoria of working with the bees. I haven’t used maca, I was told by a health store it should only be used by highly athletic people; since I don’t consider myself that, even though I exercise regularly, active recreation (biking, hiking), and have a large garden, I haven’t used it. Nama I used Tamari, wheat free and low sodium too, but not very much, I have it on hand. Raw Cacao, I do have and use it occasionally. I haven’t had any effects. Nuts I run in spirts; similar to monkeys. When the nuts are ready, they find a rock and open as many as they can, when they are done for the season they move on to something else. They find a way to eat it when they need it and when it is gone they move on. I use nuts, I have a local store that will grind them for me when they have just cleaned out their grinder. So it works.

    Thanks for the article.

  31. luv life says:

    Boo just about to make the almond falafel recipe from u guys… I’ll see how it makes us feel lol. I get IBS with high fatty meals though and just realized now that I’m about to have one ~.~ I bought agave for the first time not too long ago and we don’t like the taste, so it’s already off the list. Good to be aware of other reasons as to why. As for raw chocolate, it makes me whacky and worsens my PMS symptoms so I try to avoid it. I will eat a touch here and there cuz I’m badass like that hahaha. Never tried maca or shoyu.

  32. zyxomma says:

    I’ve had great success with maca (particularly red maca, which is higher in minerals), and raw cacao in moderation. I eat tiny amounts of raw agave syrup (when I visit live food restaurants; I don’t use it at home). I’ve substituted raw coconut aminos for nama shoyu. It’s not a perfect substitute (it’s slightly sweet), but will do. I do eat soaked organic nuts (either as is or dehydrated), but again, in moderate amounts. However, since I had a tonsillectomy, I precede a meal that contains nuts with radish, so I can produce enough HCL to digest it (I’m type-A blood, and we’re all the lowest producers of hydrochloric acid).

    I’m a very fortunate person in that I like what’s good for me. I never liked meat, dairy products, or eggs; never liked cooked salt. I rarely eat any processed foods, and when I do, I eschew non-organic, GMO, or anything that contains canola oil.

    Health and peace.

  33. B's mama says:

    Great article. Question, do you feel the same about seeds?
    I agree on the nuts thing, agave, any soy products, chocolate (i like carob, myself).

  34. Patty says:

    Great info. Thank you.

  35. lovelucy says:

    Kevin, what does your daily food plan looks like?
    I remember you don’t eat spirulina either..so where does your protein come from? please let me know. thank you.

  36. Ellen says:

    Great article. Hard to believe but I almost died from agave. I am a type 2 diabetic controlled by food and supplements.I didn’t know what was wrong with me but I started having pain in my liver and then it affected my whole endocrine system. I went to a naturpathic doctor and she said that I was in complete adrenal breakdown. I literally could not leave my house for a month.The only thing I had been doing different was the agave. Very dangerous food and I feel there should be a warning on the label.

  37. I started a chocolate biz – thought it was amazing until I got really ill – adrenal burnout. Quit that biz obviously! The one who got me into it, well their friend was makin’ a million dollars + a year selling cold-pressed dark healthy chocolate. However, the one who got me into the biz within a month of eating that chocolate everyday ended up in the hospital in acoma for over a week with serious life threatening liver issues, their wife was also in the hospital with an appendectomy and myself I had adrenal burnout really bad. Took along time to recover. We all were eating this healthy dark cold-pressed chocolate doing this chocolate biz and all ended up really ill. I won’t mention the name of the company, but just be warned, regardless if a product is super healthy, it might not be healthy for you! LOL!

    For that chocolate craving I now only buy M&M’s in the health food store “Capers” here in Vancouver, so I can have maybe 3 – 5 M&M’s at a time – they are organic dark healthy chocolate sweetened with sugar cane. No other preservatives added. Tastes delicious! I have had no problems with them. And because they are just small you can just have a few and satiate your chocolate craving. In a healthy way. As opposed to eating processed chocolate bars.

    I replaced agave with organic powdered sugar cane which actually has minerals in it as well as less calories than other natural or processed sugars. I believe it is the healthiest sugar there is out there.

    I do not consume any stimulants other than a few pieces of organic dark chocolate M&M’s from Capers I buy in a small bag once in a blue moon for that healthy chocolate fix. Just a little is all you need to satiate a craving. Even 3 M&M’s will do for me!

    I also buy small bags of organic almonds and cashews in the bulk section… a few at a time for a quick snack is tastey and not too hard on the digestive system. 3 – 5 is enough for me.

  38. I just shake my head when I read this stuff. Call me a rebel, but how about eating real food in moderation?

  39. Tina Pruitt says:

    Great article..I wholeheartedly agree!
    Tina Pruitt | The Healthy Lifestylist

  40. Diane Bixler says:

    If people really slow down, pay attention to what they eat & how they feel after, I think everyone can develop their own list of foods to avoid. It wasn’t until I journaled I realized several things probably unique to me. Strawberries solo as my carbs don’t cut it for me mentally, mushrooms upset the stomach, broccoli at lunch also don’t provide the needed effect for mental health. I never noticed until I really paid attention. We can all learn so much from journaling & paying attention to our bodies. Our bodies will tell us all we need to know!

    Thank you for your insight, especially your take on agave. I’ve replaced this with raw honey in some recipes. I’m still experimenting, and learning as I go. Thanks! Diane

  41. Jan Jones says:

    Rare is the health writer who will, after years of driving in one direction, put his car in reverse, back up, and revise his own comments on the scenery. Instead of appearing not to know what you are doing, you appear to be human enough to do what you know, based on what your body teaches. Good for you for being willing to share what you have learned–rather than hiding mistakes, which is sometimes the case in your business.

  42. Mary Himmer says:

    I use umeboshi plum vinegar in lieu of soy sauce/tamari which usually have wheat, and I can have no gluten. Eden makes a good brand, and I know of no others. You can purchase umeboshi plums in the Oriental grocery and it is possible to find those without red dye if you look hard. Even if the soy sauce has no wheat, it still doesn’t agree with me. Umeboshi is fermented apricots, and is both delicious and alkalizing. It can curb nausea for me in seconds.

  43. Bonnie says:

    Good points. I disagree on one point. I think nuts would be an easy kill for early humans. They would gather well and keep a long time in times of famine. And why would the earliest tools be rocks? Early humans had LOTS of time to sit around smashing nuts. I cannot think of a better way to spend and afternoon as an early (or modern) human!

  44. Zakiyyah says:

    This is great! I like nuts,but it doesn’t like me. It give me gas and bloating problems as well. Never tried maca,and maybe I won’t. anyway thanks for the infor Kev.

  45. Louis Soteriou says:

    I’ve never had maca but a little raw cacoa with honey and avocado made into a mouse with a wafer made from the dehydrated paste left from a strawberry almond milk is absolutely delicious every now and again! and has caused me no problems what so ever.
    As far as adrenal fatigue goes, it’s not a good idea to eat chocolate but it is important to combine your fats, carbs and proteins in a meal to regulate the release of glucose into your blood so your insulin levels don’t spike. If they do, it causes a massive drop in blood glucose after the spike, and your adrenals are forced to produce adrenelin and cortisol to convert gycogen into glucose. If your adrenals are not working properly, they will not produce sufficient amount of these hormones and your blood sugar will be low leading to fatigue and brain fog and further adrenal taxing.

  46. Matthew Pollard says:

    Kevin Have you ever looked at Dr Cassars Raw Agave? Its completely different and has none of the qualities you just posted.. Also Cocoa Has been amazing for me. Maca too. Nuts have always been just snacs for me soo i dont know about the big nut dishes.. But i think everyone is affected differently.. ! great stuff though.
    I mean i Did get a kind of burn out when i was doing over 100 superfoods and herbs a day.. so i realized i had to stop being so excited.. but now i have found an amazing balance.. Just takes time to figure those things out for whoever that person is..

  47. Jan Jensen says:

    I have been staying away from agave, maca (same feelings as you), and any soy sauce except Braggs (no wheat) for quite some time now. Over time I’m using less and less Braggs, instead using different kinds of miso.

    I eat almonds and seeds, but I always soak them – which makes a big difference to me. In the past year I’ve added cultured vegies to my daily meals – seems to go well with protein.

    I luuv chocolate but don’t eat raw as it has too much caffeine for me. On special occasions I eat organic dark chocolate. Here in BC Denman Island Chocolate is a company that takes care with their ingredients and processing.

  48. Patty says:

    I’m still a fan of raw caccao – 1 – 1 1/2 TB a day in my smoothie…and 1/4 cup of raw cashews – coconut water and some ice – my breakfast for the past two years. Never cared for Maca – and I use Agave and Nama Shoyu on occasion.

  49. Bonnie says:

    Gee- you talk about the downfall of nuts and then in the same message you share a recipe “peanut corn chowder” that requires LOTS of nuts… hmmmmm

  50. Rocio says:

    I always appreciate your straightforward honesty.
    In my experience, I have discovered that not all agave or cacao is created equally. I have ready the anti-hype around agave, and have had negative experiences with most agave, as well. After a lot of research, I discovered that the Sunfire Superfoods Agave is the only agave that does not have negative effects. One could argue that I should avoid all agave, but I feel fantastic and have great digestability with the Sunfire agave – apparently the owner of the company was very particular about his sourcing and processing. He discovered in his own research that some agave gave him a low grade fever, some agave had petroleum residue (very creepy)…the agave he uses for his company is unlike any other agave on the market…I do understand why folks would want to avoid all other agave, though. The same goes for the Sunfire cacao – there are no negative side effects, and I can go on and off of it freely without any jitters or withdrawals…even though I do avoid cacao most of the time, as I prefer to avoid stimulants. I also don’t go crazy with agave, but enjoy it from time to time. Whenever I happen to eat something with agave in it (that is not the brand I use), I never feel quite right…it’s best to eat whole, unprocessed foods and to minimize or remove anything else!
    I find that low fat, high raw vegan has been the best for me, and only using the highest quality “fun” foods on occasion (as above). Sunfire Superfoods are expensive but the results speak for themselves – really premium quality. I wish it was more readily available.

  51. Caterina says:

    Again thanks to Kev.
    His insights are very helpful. I quit chocolate after some winter indulging and feel a lot better and free of all the symphtoms he mentions.
    I suggest everybody to check into the blood type diet, there one can find an explication to the nut’s issue. Not all nuts are good for everyone and anyway the right amount in a day (not necessarily everyday) of the right ones shouldn’t exceed what fits in one’s lightly closed fist.
    Also let’s not forget that nature made nuts a precious support to our diet because they can be kept almost year long, doesn’t that also mean that we cannot gorge on them day after day?
    Maca maybe chemically a superfood but I am sure my mediterranean genes have never had any contact with it, so how can it be good to consume it even as often as once a week. Also if God gave us fire and the creativity to use it for cooking some foods and make them edible or digestible, maybe there is some sense to it.
    My take is: everything that is good and tasty and gratifying and chewable if eaten raw (fruits and all possible veggies and roots and berries and mushrooms and so on), what doesn’t fit in the category should be cooked as less as possible and at the lowest possible temperature, and do not forget to remember seasons, eat what could possibly grow where you live at the season you are in, including the food that you might have been able to preserve for the poorer season.

  52. Zoe Riopelle says:

    Totally agree! I don’t like maca anyway and I have found that too much of any of those can have adverse effects.

  53. Nikki says:

    I like what you have to say Anna21.

    Also, I have been in a bit of a cocoa frenzie for the past couple of weeks. I will say that the cocoa I use is not raw – it’s just the regular baking cocoa you can buy anywhere. I use about a heaping tablespoon full every day (the odd day I’ll have two) and after several weeks, have had no problems – and I am pretty caffeine sensitive, so obviously the stimulant power of this cocoa is not strong enough to have any negative effect on me (maybe as a result of the processing since I am not using raw).

    As I was skimming through the responses here, I saw someone mention vinegar that they use in place of the nama shoyu. Now, I haven’t ever used nama shoyu, and this is not even related to that, but the comment reminded me of a question I had about vinegar. Is vinegar good for yo?. I am thinking that the high acidity of it might not be a good thing.

  54. Jim Dee says:

    Well, there’s always carob for those who don’t eat chocolate. I actually like carob, though I don’t eat it (or chocolate) too often. But, I *have* definitely eaten chocolate raw, right out of the pod. It’s weird, as it has a slimy, citrusy skin. Ever had that??

  55. Phyllis says:

    I have stopped using Agave, soy and any kind of chocolate. I tried Cacao about 2 years ago, but noticed that I couldn’t tolerate it. It left me over stimulated and nervous. I am gluten intolerant so I am discovering many things I need to steer clear of. At the same time, I am discovering many things I can eat, and I feel so much better!

  56. bitt says:

    people who say they are healthy are probably just comparing them to standard baked goods and so forth. we have to keep that in context.

    i hate nama shoyu too. i wish restaurants would stop using it and tamari. i do a little bit of coconut aminos once in awhile but not in large doses.

  57. bob says:

    great topics. i like your humor- fingers like hot dogs. what a gas! do they constitute viable “raw food” too? lol

  58. Berries says:

    Great article. Now I now why I get so bloated after eating raw soaked & dehydrated seeds and nuts I will cut down on those. I have cut out agave and don’t use nama shoyu. I wish the raw restaurants (vegetarian, vegan and standard as well) could learn to make salads with a lot of greens and not drown with dressing and other heavy stuff.

  59. christine says:

    Hi Kevin

    Thank you once again. I use agave or should I say I did until reading your post today. Out it goes. Thanks for the ‘heads up’ as I thought (mistakenly) that is was a healthy alternative to sugar. I wouldnt go near HFCS but did not realise that agave was so similar. I will do some more reading on this and look at the links you posted on the study with diabetics.

    PS The timing of this post is great for me as I am currently reviewing my diet, eating patterns and restocking my pantry. I would have left agave on the shelf. Not any more!

  60. Danny says:

    TOTALLY agree with all of these. I’ve been doing raw (not 100%, but dabbling) since Juliano was handing out free wraps at street fairs here in L.A., well before he opened his restaurant.

    Nama Shoyo makes me jumpy. So does maca and “cacao”. You forgot on “raw” foods staple though: Bragg’s. If there’s one fraud in the raw world it’s Bragg’s which contains tons of MSG. So much so that they were forced by the FDA take “no MSG” off their labels. Just Google it.

  61. liane says:

    Love agave even though I know it’s naughty. It’s disappearing from my cakes. So are you ‘for’ stevia?
    I’m devouring the book, ‘Rainbow Green Live-Foods’ by Gabriel Cousens, M.D. and co. Wow. Really informative and helpful and he’s with you on the nut thing esp. avoiding peanuts and cashews.
    By the way, thanks for sharing your fave green juice. I’ve had it three times this week. Soooooooooooooooo good. 🙂

  62. Thomas says:

    @Nikki #40:
    There are different types of vinegar.

    White vinegar is good for cleaning metals, porcelain, etc. Also good to put on the trail of those tiny ‘sugar’ ants. They are repelled by it.

    Apple cider vinegar is a health tonic and healer of many ailments. Especially organic types like Bragg’s, which you can get it at natural food stores or online at Amazon, iHerb, Vitacost, etc.

    A good source of info on it is from Dr. Jarvis’ book “Folk Medicine”, once a staple of country living since the 60’s.


  63. hyesun says:

    i think agave is the biggest “health” fraud out there that people are still falling for. i agree with you – actually i think it’s worse than high fructose corn syrup and i wish companies wouldn’t use it in their “health bars” and “healthy” ice creams, granolas, etc.
    i do like navitas naturals gelatinized maca. it’s not a raw product and tastes much better than raw, imo. nuts are one of my weaknesses and it’s easy for me to overdo them if i’m not careful. i gave up cacao for a while but didn’t notice a difference. i do use more carob than cacao now, though.

  64. Rhonda says:

    This article along with all the comments makes me realize how many directions we all try to eat healthy. I have been on that course too, and have found a good balance for me, eat whole foods, plant-based, some cooked, some raw, a few superfoods and try to avoid the newest hype claims. Not always easy, but strive for balance and real foods. And of course as much organic and homegrown as possible.

    Be thankful for the foods that we have that feed our bodies nutritiously. If something does not work, eliminate it.

    Kind regards

  65. rachel says:

    Wonderful article, great topic.
    I got into raw in the 1980’s via natural hygiene; a VERY simple way of eating raw. No
    fancy stuff, no dehydrating.
    I always thought raw chocolate was overblown. Very strong taste to me. Too much of a stimulant. If the animals won’t eat it what does that tell us? Moderation only.
    Tried agave syrup when it was way over-hyped. EVERY time I ate it I felt strange afterwards. My body told me something was wrong with it.
    I find it very disturbing that sooo many raw food snacks are loaded with agave syrup because it is quick and easy tho unhealthy.
    Maca?, have had very little experience with it.
    Yes, the RAW food movement is way too heavy into nuts and seeds almost for every meal.Almost like a “meat substitute”.
    Amazing how RAW should be healthy but not when soo many foods are touted as ‘healthy’ but should only be eaten if you can handle them.
    If you want SALT, try pink salt, celery,
    or tomato. If you want sweet use raisins, dates, bananas, or raw honey. Even Bragg’s is not raw but many people use it. namaste’, rachel

  66. Cirsten says:

    Hi Kevin,

    I guess that too much of any thing can ruin anybodies health.
    I love a spoon full of maca in my smoothie now and then or a piece of raw cake made of raw chocolate, agave syrup, almonds, dates and avocados now and then. I also eat smoked or plain tofu now and then or some miso or soy sauce with my food now and then. But I also eat lots of other things, both raw and cooked, and I think that’s how it should be.
    I think that when we are told that this food or that food is a superfood, well it is nothing more then PR. Maybe with the exception of eggs, there is no one food we can live of for a long period of time without getting sick.
    And another thing: Humans are thought to originate from Africa. Africa has no maca, no cocoa, no agaves and no soybeans. And coming from Europe myself, I can say with very big certainty, that none of my forefathers has ever eaten any of those things. And still they’ve done well. People in my family get quite old, and have done so for many generations, by eating local foods like fish and vegetables.
    It is difficult to know what our ancestors ate before food became something we get in a package, but they did certainly not eat foods from fare away places on a daily basis, if at all. So why don’t we concentrate about the food we can get locally, make sure it is of a really good quality and make it the bulk of what we eat and then enjoy some of the so called superfoods as a treat. Sometimes.

  67. Sherri says:

    Kevin, you and AnnMarie are AMAZING! I love that you get to the “meat” of the matter, always, and ALWAYS with honesty and integrity, a the risk of what people say!


  68. Tim says:

    In dealing with my adrenal fatigue I began using Maca. I found a book on Maca and looked it up in the Hyper Health Software and found the therapeutic dose range. I began taking 3600mg per day, through out the day, along with other things I was doing. After a while I began to improve. Then I began to notice I would have some very bad days of fatigue, especially in the late afternoon and evening. It was like I was going backwards. I found when I cut the amount down I began feeling better. I have since learned that when using Maca for adrenal fatigue there comes a point when you have to decrease the amount you are using to the point where you no longer need it. As stated you have to listen to your body. At this point I am down to 450mg per day and only in the early evening. At other times of the day it is not good for me.
    I seen a couple people asking about where to get protein if not from nuts. Protein is in all fruits, vegetables, and greens. In fact most greens are 30+% protein. If you interested in finding out how much is in a food and the amino acid break down go to the USDA Nutritional Database and look it up. “http://www.nal.usda.gov/fnic/foodcomp/search/”. All the foods I eat have all 18 amino acids they list. I use the database to get the nutritional data for foods to enter in a foodlog program I use.

  69. Cheryl says:

    Thanks for the information. I don’t use agave anymore either. My corn-sensitive kids react to it, so that was enough for me. I’m not sure if it is because of the high fructose content or that, because it isn’t particularly well regulated, that their might be corn syrup in it. But anything that causes a bad reaction can’t be good for you, so bye-bye Agave.

  70. linda says:

    Never touched stevia – I believed Dr. Mercola at the beginning when he advised against it and gave reasons that made sense to me. I don’t touch soy either, except miso and real, fermented tamari, and only organic. When I quit wheat, besides feeling a whole lot better, I lost a few excess pounds without any effort. (I don’t do the gluten-free processed junk either.) I love chocolate, and don’t feel any ill effects from it. Maca’s helped a lot with hot flashes, and I feel no bad effects from that either. Some of the best super-healthy stuff I’ve found are fermented foods like miso, milk kefir made from authentic kefir grains, kombucha, raw apple cider vinegar, and fermented vegetables. The fermented foods changed my life after about ten years being really sick with colitis – even got rid of toenail fungus!

  71. Thank you for your honesty about the effect that raw chocolate had on you.

    I have been drinking a lot more fresh green juice lately and am amazed at how this simple early raw food is so mind bogglingly helpful. I have been drinking it day after day, and it seems to have a cumulative effect. Sometimes the simple classics are where the real power is. Interestingly, they are not something which someone can sell us.

    Thank you for continuing to courageously report the truth as you see it.

    Blessings to you and Ann Marie.

  72. Heidi says:

    I agree with everything you have written in this article. I am following the Gerson Therapy with excellent results. All topics you have covered are consistent with this therapy. Also, I have found through personal experience extreme pain with salt, nuts, wheat, and soy products. There is so much provided in the plant kingdom for making wonderful food preparations. I focus on what I can eat, and how creatively it can be prepared rather than thinking about what I cannot eat. Good health and a pain free body are my goals!

  73. RadiantTara says:

    I totally agree with your top five. Our systems must be the same.

    I have a huge bag of 2 or 3 year whole cacao and powdered maca in my refrig. I can’t bring myself to throw them away because they were so expensive but they made me feel strange.

    And agave, give me a break, all the health gurus proclaiming it’s virtues are addicted and have no problems with bringing the rest of the world along for their hypoglycemic ride. That stuff knocks me on the floor. Like a pecan pie and we know what that is made of.

    And Nama Shoyu, hype as well.

    I would add Braggs Aminos, something about it. Not good for me. I do however like Wilderness Family Coconut Aminos and Vinegar. I find their aminos a very suitable replacement for Soy Sauce and Braggs and never any weird feeling.

  74. Ulla says:

    Food is such an individual matter. Never did well with maca and find agave way too sweet for most raw food desserts. Finding my way through 100% raw to a more balanced diet, I continue to fine-tune my diet, intuition, body and health.
    Trying to eat REAL FOODS as opposed to Superfoods (sorry David Wolf) and go by “Eat foods, mostly plants, not too much”.

    What has grabbed my attention in the last year is how much my body (now 60 years old) needs EXERCISE to better digest food and to detoxify on a continuing basis.
    I am finding many interesting pieces of information in Dr. Abravanel’s Body Type Diet and Lifelong Nutrition Plan, first published in 1983. It is based on the glandular system, aiming to support your less dominant glands to achieve more balance (and prevent burn-out)through gland specific diet and exercise plans and would explain to some degree why everybody responds differently to certain foods. (Not to be confused with Adamo’s Blood Type diet, mentioned in the post above, which does not make any sense to me at all).

    Thanks Kevin for your good work.

  75. Deborah says:


    Bravo to you!

    Cacoa: I eat it once in a while. I find it ‘extremely potent’ and very little sends me whirling into a depressed withdrawal for a day or two.

    Agave: Ditto. I have tried it a number of times and remember it is Not a good thing with me.

    Namo Shoyu: Recently purchased some and hadn’t realized wheat is involved in the process until it was in my hand. I ordered it on the internet. Soy has never been a fan of me so I take that as a sign to avoid it for the most part. I have coconut aminos and yet to try them.

    Nuts: My liver could not handle nuts well for years. When I am fully raw, like now, I do fine with nuts if I eat a few at one time and soak them. Definitely they become a challenge to my digestive system if eaten in any prepared nut concentrated recipe such as pie crusts, tunaish, falafels etc.

    Maca: I haven’t tried any doseage worth mentioning of maca in awhile and when I did a few times the experience was not a good one for me. At least maca was the suspect each time it was an ingredient.

    Stevia: I tried it YEARS ago when I had a health food store. Actually long before it was popular even in the health food industry and was hard to find. It didn’t agree with me. I have some on hand and am afraid to try it. I recall it being extremely potent as well. There will come a day when I do try it again.

    Currently I am blogging my raw eating with many photos at http://realizinghealth.blogspot.com/.

    Thanks Kevin!

  76. Maria says:

    I enjoy the taste of agave but I gave it up a few years ago because it just made me feel weird and out of sorts. When I told a friend about my experience she said it was making her feel weird, too, so she also gave it up. I look at least 10 years younger and have an EXTRA GLOW when I stay away from soy and eat fewer nuts. However, when I’m on a 100% raw diet I can eat all the nuts I want (unsoaked even) and still have that extra glow. Though I’m normally a high-energy person, chocolate significantly zaps my energy levels and I can really tell a difference in my workouts when I eat it, even in small amounts. Maca seems to be ok but I only take about a half tsp. at a time in my morning smoothies.

    Thanks for the reminders and for getting the word out! The information is GREATLY appreciated!

  77. WaterBeing says:

    I would add coconut oil to the list. There’s not a shred of credible evidence to suggest it’s good to eat much of and it’s still a fat! Eating 1/4 cup of it with one “meal” like many people I know do – seems a bit insane – like would we eat 1/4 of olive oil in one sitting! Well at least I don’t anymore because it made me feel ick like how the excessive nuts made you guys feel. I would love to hear what you have to say about the coconut oil. My vegan, whole food mum-in-law added coconut oil in “hearty” amounts this past year because of all the good press and it was the first time her cholesterol was high. It seems connected.

  78. NS says:

    What’s the verdict on xylitol?

  79. wendy green says:

    we don’t eat any of them regularly. on occasion i will soak nuts for pate for sushi…or add some cacao (from right here in honduras) to a smoothie, the namu shoya bottle i bought 3 years ago is half full in the frig…other than that..nada. must say, i prefer sprouts to everything lately…except for mangoes…they are in season!

  80. Ayn says:

    I dont use agave often at all anymore. I do use maca, about… oh a tsp a day, and I do really well with this. I am going to read up on the raw vs. not raw maca and see what I can find on that one, thanks for the tip. I really enjoyed reading about the connection you made between the nuts being hard to open and maybe not eating them all the time. I wonder how you feel about coconuts? They are all the craze these days. Coconut oil, butter, in smoothies, in the tub, for you face, for your tyroid, etc. I read a few other peoples comments about coconuts also and was hoping you would do a segment on this topic as well.


  81. David says:

    A few people have mentioned gelatinized Maca!
    This was recomended to me by a healthfood salesperson. She and her boyfriend tried both raw and gelatinized and much preferred the latter. She said that in cooking the carbohydrates were then able to be strained off.
    I’m 74 and like my “T” up! I’m very healthy and like an active lifestyle. The gelatinized helps me stay sexy and recharge my batteries more quickly. I’ve been using a company by the name of Navias.

  82. Jane Guyette says:

    Having had issues with phase I liver detoxification most of my adult life, I can definitely agree with most of this list. The maca was a definite surprise and I will look into this further for myself and my clients. Do we really need more raw chocolate in this ever stimulating environment??? Good article.

  83. Cassandra says:

    This is a great list honestly. I have to say though, for some reason with maca and cacao if I have just the right amount of them I feel absolutely fabulous, but as soon as I pass that limit I feel like somebody injected espresso into my veins and I start sweating and feeling anxiety stricken. It’s so strange that it really can go either way. Thankfully I have (for the most part) learned the “just right” amount to have! Nama shoyu (soy in general, even fermented), agave, and heavy nut dishes always make me feel so awful, too. Thank you for your honesty 🙂

  84. Hilary says:

    Thanks for this great list. I do tend to avoid agave now. Although I do still sometimes have the other foods.
    I think the interesting thing is that the more in tune you become with your body, the more sensitive and easier it is to recognize the foods that don’t agree with you.

  85. unicorn says:

    Thanks for this article. I have to say that I disagree with the final analysis that the foods highlighted are not as healthy as has been promoted (other than agave). What you will find is that not every food suits every person and it’s obvious that the ones listed in this article are not giving you personally the best results. I have found that all of these foods have assisted me immensely, but I treat them more as a medicine than I would a belly filler, and use it accordingly in measures.

    As far as raw goes, most of the issues with seeds, nuts and even those plants that have some toxic qualities in their raw state can mostly be overcome with soaking (including Maca). The jury is still out in my mind exactly how raw many of the processed brands really are (raw cacao, raw maca). The main gist is that raw plant food should make up the majority of our diet and the rest in moderation. Oh, and buying a dehydrater is the best thing I ever did.

  86. Brent says:

    What about Lou Corona and his fermented nut/seed style diet? Does it just work for him or is it something for all of us.

  87. Alanda says:

    I don’t like Agave, to processed. But I think when you restrict your diet so much, as some raw food folks do, it creates cravings. Then you overeat some things, and overeating creates digestive issues in anybody. Moderation, then listen to your own body. I do wonderful on nuts, soaked and dehydrated as a snack. Maca and chocolate in moderation are awesome. I try to feed my five children balanced and pure and organic. We do awesome on my organic raw goat kefir. I think variety, purity, and listening to your body are the key. You all are awesome. Thanks for making a difference!

  88. Laura says:

    Thanks for the post, Kevin.
    When I lived in Costa Rica, I used to ask my son to go out and pick a few cacao pods for me to make some “fondue”. Those trees were always easy for him to climb, and were like weeds because they just grew everywhere seemingly. I used to put the entire contents of the cacao pods into the blender, meaning it was a whole food, and then blended it with fresh orange juice, dates and soaked macadamia nuts to make the fondue. The sweet white frothy pith surrounding the cacao beans is quite delicious, and if I’m not mistaken the monkeys eat this pith before spitting out the beans. I bet the reason humans started eating the pith along with the beans is because they found it to have that euphoric love-potion effect. (maybe we’re not as smart as the monkeys who avoid the beans, or maybe humans were meant to eat the beans too…who knows?) I know the beans are touted as unhealthy because they have theobromine, caffeine, are addictive, and produce negative health effects…but maybe all of that is because we humans tend to overdo it on some foods, and because we’re not going out into our back yards to pick the food for ourselves, and then eating the whole food (the pith WITH the beans). That said, I do avoid pretty much all cacao, but only because now that I’m living in the US I’m not able to just tell my kids to go out back and pick a few beans. Raw carob powder is delicious though, and supposedly very healthy, right?
    Also, we use the raw coconut nectar from http://www.coconutsecret.com on a regular basis and it’s just lovely. They also make coconut vinegar, sugar crystals, liquid aminos (use that instead of braggs which has naturally occuring msg), and flour —> all raw, organic, and made out of the nectar which exudes from the coconut blossoms.
    Peace and blissings, Laura~

  89. Jen Gibbs says:

    Thank you for your thoughts Kevin – great stuff to read daily.
    So, if these are your 5 stay away from foods, what are your staples? What are the things that you have always on hand?
    Thanks for helping us to Live Awesome.

  90. Amira says:

    Excellent article!!! The overly hyped health foods are always the ones that make me see red flags.

  91. Valerie says:

    Excellent article! Though not 100% raw (as I never felt that was appropriate for me or our family of Italians) as we’ve eaten more healthfully and added more raw meals to our diets we’ve also found ourselves much more sensitive to certain foods. Nuts and Nama have always been an issue for us. No one here eats or craves any type of chocolate anymore.

    Thanks Kevin and Ann Marie for your transparency and not being afraid to “contradict” your previous thoughts on foods. You two are our favorite “pioneers”. Your intelligence and honesty set you head and shoulders above many others! Thanks for your contributions and your excellent ongoing work!
    Be blessed . . .

  92. Thanks, totally agree.

    Found it interesting that you as a vegetarian have read Gary Taubes’ recent book “Why We Get Fat”. I’d be interested to know your thoughts on it.

    I too find that eating nuts makes me feel sluggish. As well as being hard to digest they contain a significant amount of mineral-binding anti-nutrients. I have swapped nut milks/purees for cream and find that it sits much better with my body (still trying to get over the last vestiges of ‘saturated fat/dairy is bad’ mental programming though).

    I do make a fermented chia gel which seems to sit well.

    I really like the way you guys listen to your own body’s reactions to food and encourage others to do the same. I think this is so important, we are all different and all at different stages with our health. I also like the fact that you encourage us to test the true state of our health with blood tests etc rather than just sticking blindly to our beliefs about what should be healthy.

    Love your work, your integrity and the way you share your learning journey.

  93. Dust says:

    Too true, nuts should pretty much always be cultured, sprouted otherwise it’s hard to digest.

  94. Lorien says:

    I’ve never had agave or anything soy & don’t intend to. I’ve had Maca but not long enough to make a judgement. Cacao & nuts don’t bother me a bit. I have a handful of mixed nuts every other day soaked overnight on my lunch salad. I find that grain is my biggest offending food. If I eat grain I begin to gain weight before the first bite. So it’s a once in a great while thing.

    As for the coconut oil comment: yes coconut oil will raise your cholesterol. That said cholesterol is not the black hat we have been told all these years. nearly every part of your body requires cholesterol to function properly especially your brain and nervous system. My Homeopath just did an extended study on cholesterol in the body. Vital substance. Blaming cholesterol for heart realated issues is like blaming fire trucks for fires. Yes it is always present in abundance but it is not the cause, it is there to repair the cause.

  95. Pammyg says:

    I was taught that Nama Shoyou is a neuro-toxin and should not be used often. Also you can have all the nut pates, butters, loafs, patties, crackers etc. No good for me. The belly ache is not worth it!

  96. Beatrice says:

    I stopped using agave a couple of years ago when I heard about the possible additives. I use liquid stevia instead on occasion.

    I have bad reactions to all types of chocolate – raw or otherwise. I don’t eat it at all anymore either.

    I didn’t know about nama shoyu. I don’t use it much so it’s not really an issue but I will definitely try something else.

    I don’t use maca and I eat a few nuts, not much. Great article!

  97. Lehana says:

    Maca caused such stomach distress that I thought I was having a heart attack. I work in a health food store and most of the employees take maca daily in smoothies. I tried again, and the same results. I had to have a friend rub my upper back to make me burp to relieve the gas and relieve the pressure on my heart. So, lesson learned – this food is not for me. Have had a customer also complain of heart palpitations after taking maca. We are all unique and have to listen to our own bodies.

  98. Barbara says:

    Never tried Agave Nectar but don’t eat nuts at all now, make hemp mylk instead and it sits well in my stomach, have lost LOADS of weight and just feel generally lighter. Maca made me feel really sick, tried hiding it in lots of stuff but no good. Was always a bit suspicious of something called Nama Shoyu, what kinda name is that – lol.
    Like to keep my raw food simple except………
    LOVE Raw Chocolate, can’t imagine life without it.
    Very interesting article, made good reading.xxx

  99. Lorna says:

    Would write and tell you about how much raw cacao damaged my adrenals, but am still too exhausted to write much (seriously). Obviously raw cacao wasn’t the only factor, but was a big factor for my poor stressed body. Took me a week to ‘come down’ from a three day David Wolfe retreat. Am fine with ‘cooked’ chocolate although I obviously restrict it as it is not good for recovery from exhaustion. Just one bite of raw sends me skitty.
    Think I read once that roasting cacao destroys the theobromide, so it may be that, not just the caffeine (which stays pretty much intact with roasting).

  100. Danielle says:

    As a newcomer to Renegade Health, I’ve been fairly impressed with the overall content and delivery of your material. However, I’m concerned there may be some gaps that need addressing regarding the link your provided for the agave report under the “Glycemic Research Institute” web page. Please take the time to dive a little deeper (as it appears you do quite well) into its origin, lab testing, the lab’s Chief of Research, bio, and trademark. Then try cross referencing with NEJM. If you arrive where I did, you’ll find it doesn’t add up. Your work is both enlightening and commendable so I look forward to following your progress! Thank you.

    • Kevin Gianni Kevin Gianni says:

      Thanks for your comments here, Danielle!

      I’m wondering why you didn’t share this information here yourself, it would be more beneficial for you to explain what you say than to hint at it! 🙂

      Please share what you found… that’s the most valuable part of our little community here!

      Also, regardless of industry connections, conspiracy theories or anything else (which there is a lot of), doesn’t it make sense to not eat a processed sugar that has very similar composition to high-fructose corn syrup?

      Sometimes, people who have unusual connections can come up with good research. 😉


  101. This was a great article with some good points. I have had the same experience with maca,it definitely clouded my thinking and did not benefit me.
    The only food I disagree on is raw chocolate. I am anemic and it has greatly helped me get my iron up, and gives me alot of energy after I eat it. But of course everyone reactes differently.
    I was wondering what people think about banannas. They have a higher sugar contenet then other fruits, is that ok? I like to have 2-3 a day, not sure if this is a moderate enough amount?

  102. Karen Panish says:

    I think what is important to look at is one’s ability to digest and metabolize a particular food as well as the quality of the food being eaten. Many nuts available for purchase are rancid and toxic. By the time rancidity is able to be “smelled” – it may already be 30% rancid. In my practice, I have seen people react very negatively to cacao (of a particular brand) and then respond extremely favorably to another brand that is free from toxins. It points to that it is not always the food – but the quality – something often difficult to distinguish with the eyes.

    In addition, digestive issues, low HCL, toxic and congested liver and gallbladder, overworked/stressed kidneys and adrenals can make digesting and using powerful foods difficult. I have found that when these digestive issues have been identified and corrected, many people are able to incorporate new foods into the diet that previously gave them difficulty. Literally changing the food from toxic (for their body because it can not handle it) to beneficial (because they are now able to metabolize and utilize that food.)

    For optimal health, it is always important to listen to your body when selecting foods – but equally important to consider the root cause related to any reaction.

  103. Nina says:

    I’ve never been into agave, I use Coconut Suryp which does not give me any candida symptoms and I believe it’s really raw and unrefined and contains minerals and vitamins and taste is really good! I agree also on raw chocolate, nothing has ever given me such a low as raw cacao after initial high and it feels super addictive to me so stearing clear from the stuff…However maca has worked miracles with my PMS, improving my mood dramatically, I think it’s more of a ‘feminine’ food, as I feel Reishi has a more male energy to. I also use Coconut Aminos instead of Nama Shoya and wheat free Tamari, but in super small quantities in recipes and they feel alright to me. And I love nuts, however only in recipes, but then again I need quite a bit of fat in my diet and digest it really well, I guess all this stuff comes down to whatever resonates with YOU and FEELS right to YOU, not what someone said or something you read, we are all individuals and have unique needs, what works for one might not work for another…

  104. Tessa says:

    Fun read – thanks! Found you via Heal Thyself on FB.
    I’d like to hear which are your Top 5 Raw foods that you can’t live without!
    Of course, the raws that are purchased similar to these vs. made at home.

  105. Brenda says:

    There is also date sugar. I have used agave and its too sweet it does not cause any health problems since I am blood type A+ which is formed with the O antigen made of fucose, plus another sugar, called n-acetyl-galactose. But I do not desire any thing except fruit and vegetable natural sweetness, everything now and then I would eat a piece of Green&Blacks organic almond milk chocolate with 37% cocoa. Being a vegan from 21-35, then back to eating fish, turkey and chicken for five years. I been gone raw for 10 months straight-no health problems. Now I have decided to use what is all ready predetermined before my birth and that based on my blood type it states I can eat turkey, chicken but I have to wean myself back to it. At this moment I prefer raw even when I have Type O blood meat-cheeseburger and fries. I just use soy burgers and tofu fries. I am determined to listen to my body for it know what is death food and which is live food for nutrition. I can tell you I do not care for raw tuna made with nuts, give me the real tuna that is the only raw dish I will never create again, being a gourmet chef it is very important whats in my food and how it helps my body regenerate cells to keep me healthy and alive and of course the taste(spices).

  106. Annie says:

    I agree with the decrease of heavy nut content along with fat content food like coconut oil, avocado, etc. I have a lot of difficulties to diggest them. I also want to reduce all types of vinegar.

  107. SuzyK-Coach says:

    Sad (really) but true and I agree with all 5, from my own experience. I kept trying to do the maca but I always feel very weird and finally determined it was the culprit, especially straight. I still have a whole bottle of maca spice from Jameth but…I am also concerned about bananas and raw almonds that I slightly roasted. Seems that both produce AGE’s, the advanced glycolated end products that cause the brown spots on your skin, also caused by numerous gall stones in the liver. I’ve cleaned all those out, quite an awesome experience. But the AGE’s…what to do! bananas, its just not fair!

  108. Joanna says:

    totally agree on all of those…although I feel ok with tamari sometimes but wheat free. I get very wired from the other things, anxiety goes through the roof and I cannnot breath properly. Very good article x

  109. […] Last week, I posted an article on 5 foods we don’t really think are as healthy as they’re portrayed… (here) […]

  110. JL says:

    Why am I here?

    Most people live their entire lives without ever knowing “Why?” They exist year after year with no idea of why they live or God’s purpose for their lives. The most basic question a person can ask is,

    “What is the meaning of life?”

    Everyone wants to be happy. People try many ways. Some look for happiness by acquiring possessions. Some look for happiness by experiencing pleasure. Some look for happiness by gaining prestige and power.

    But real happiness comes from understanding your purpose in life.

    God made you to love you! He has a personal and purposeful plan for your life! God wants you to live your life to the full. Why then aren’t most people really happy?

    Why am I not happy and fulfilled?

    Man has a natural desire to be the boss and ignore God’s principles for living. The Bible calls this attitude sin. Sin keeps us from a close relationship with God. It causes us to fear God and try to live our lives outside of His will. When our relationship with God is not right, it causes problems in every area of our life – marriage, career, relationships, finances, etc.

    “For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.” Romans 3:23 (NLT)

    “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 6:23 (NLT)

    What does God want me to do?

    Admit that God has not been first place in your life and ask Him to forgive your sins.
    “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” I John 1:9 (NIV)

    Believe that Jesus died to forgive you and rose again to reconcile you with God.
    “If you confess that Jesus is your Lord, and you believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” Romans 10:9 (NIV)

    Choose to receive Christ and accepts God’s free gift of salvation.

    “But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God. They are reborn—not with a physical birth resulting from human passion or plan, but a birth that comes from God.” John 1:12-13 (NLT)

    You can take these steps by praying a simple prayer of commitment to God:

    “Dear Jesus, thank you for making me and loving me. I realize I need you in my life, and I’m sorry for my sins. I ask you to forgive me. Thank you for dying on the cross for me. Please help me to understand it more. As much as I know how, I want to follow you from now on. Please come into my life and make me a new person inside. I accept your gift of salvation. Please help me to grow now as a Christian.”

    “Everyone who calls on the name of the LORD will be saved.” Romans 10:13 (NLT)

    “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5b (NIV)

    Now What?

    If you prayed the above prayer, Jesus came into your life and He will never leave you! We’re so excited that you have made the decision to commit your life to Christ! We encourage you to get into God’s word and to find a Bible-based church that will support your growth as a Christian. Surround yourself with people who will encourage you in your daily walk and stay connected to God every day. That’s the secret to life!

  111. Jen says:

    Thank goodness I’m not the only one who feels weird on Maca. I feel really “spaced out”…even on 1/4 teaspoon of Maca. I’ve stopped using it because it made me feel so not right!:-)

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