The raw meat diet has been thrust back into the spotlight with The Hills star Heidi Montag snapped by paparazzi biting into a raw bison heart in the middle of LA in an effort to improve her fertility.
The raw meat diet is a variant of raw foodism, which is a dietary practice that involves eating only or mostly raw, uncooked, and unprocessed foods, as well as avoiding foods that have been genetically engineered or sprayed with pesticides and herbicides.
Montag posted a video of herself to Instagram last month in which she was seen eating raw liver and bull's testicles, claiming that there are ‘so many benefits to eating liver’ and ‘animal organs.’
Montag told People:
I have been trying to get pregnant for over a year and a half, I'm willing to try different things.
It's a great source of nutrients! I have felt incredible on this diet. A lot more energy, clarity, increased libido, and overall improvement on chronic pain I have had.
Liver does have health benefits. It is a rich source of protein and B vitamins, as well as other important nutrients like iron, zinc, and folate. Vitamin B12 especially is connected to positive effects on fertility, according to Harvard Health.
However, Roxana Ehsani, a registered nutritionist and spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, warns:
Consuming raw eggs or raw meats increases your risk for foodborne illness and food poisoning.
Raw meat may contain common foodborne pathogens such as Salmonella, E. Coli, Listeria, Staphylococcus, and Campylobacter. It may also contain parasites like roundworms or tapeworms.
No proven benefits
Most followers of raw foodism adopt the diet as they believe that cooking food decreases its nutritional value through the loss of important vitamins and minerals.
As reported by Healthline, some studies indicate that cooking meat may reduce its content of certain vitamins and minerals, including thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, sodium, potassium, calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus.
However, these studies have also found that levels of other minerals increase after cooking, specifically copper, zinc, and iron.
Healthline concludes that:
Data on the nutritional differences between raw and cooked meat is limited, and there are no notable benefits of eating raw meat over cooked meat.
Any potential benefits of eating raw meat are likely outweighed by the higher risk of contracting a foodborne illness.
In addition, people at increased risk, such as children, pregnant or nursing women, and older adults, should avoid consuming raw meat altogether.