Diet and Nutrition Data Verified

Difference Between Raw, Cooked, and Processed Food

Written by
Dr. Vishal Wadi
and medically reviewed by iCliniq medical review team.

Published on Feb 01, 2018 and last reviewed on Aug 02, 2019   -  3 min read


Do the difference between raw, cooked, and processed food? This article will help you decide the type of food you should be consuming more for healthy living.

Difference Between Raw, Cooked, and Processed Food

Over the last two decades, with increasing industrialization, we have seen the availability of all those foods in the marketplace that were earlier prepared solely at home. The food industry has grown by leaps and bounds. Processed material, food intermediates, snack foods, ready to cook, ready to eat foods, fast foods and food delivery companies and apps have emerged everywhere. Now we do not have to cook anything at home and all kinds of food are just a phone call or a click away. This has improved convenience and reduced the time and efforts we put in. But, over-dependence on ready foods with changing lifestyle has wreaked havoc on our health. We see lifestyle-related diseases like diabetes, obesity, hypertension, heart diseases, arthritis, depression, and anxiety in nearly every household. All these disorders have a direct link to our food choices, and somehow we are not able to see this link.

How the State of Food Affects Our Health

If we look at the stages of food, it starts from raw food, which grows in fields. It is then harvested and sold either in a raw form or is used to produce processed food in factories. But, the quality of the same food varies distinctly as it passes through a number of stages. Let us look at each stage.

Raw Food

When a food crop is harvested, what we get is its raw form, which is the best form of food for human health. It has all the vital nutrients, vitamins, minerals, and enzymes intact. When we were an agrarian society, we would eat a good quantity of raw food, as it was grown in the fields. But slowly with urbanization and commercialization of food, raw food consumption has gone down. Raw produce is stored and transported in cold chains and made available to distant areas many days after its harvest, which leads to deterioration in its quality and depletion of nutrients.

When it reaches us in the raw form, it has a good quantity of nutrients still left in it. If we eat this food it works as medicine and we can prevent most of the lifestyle diseases.

Cooked Food

After buying raw food, we cook it, as over the years we have developed a taste for soft food. During cooking, we heat and boil the food while also adding oil and spices. Plenty of nutrition is lost during this cooking process. But since we cannot see it, we judge its quality by its taste, color, and presentation. This food is alright to satisfy our hunger and does not harm us. But, at the same time, it does not work as medicine to our body and is only good for satiety and gratification.

Processed Food

This is the food that we purchase ready and eat as it is. Most of the snack foods are in this category. Intermediaries for home cooking like oils, sugar, salt, dressings, pastes, etc., are also in the processed category. Even fresh food like milk and milk products are available to us in the processed and packed form today.

The problem is, although these foods are tasty, not only is their nutritious value totally lost, but they impact our health adversely. Industrial processing changes the biochemistry of the food so much that our body system no longer recognizes them as food, and considers them as a foreign entity, just like micro-organisms, pollutants, allergens, etc., that enter the body. The body’s defense mechanism (immune system) becomes active and generates an immune response to get rid of the processed food. That means these foods are not welcomed inside the body. The immune response over a long period of time leads to autoimmune disorders, wherein, in the process of removing these foreign bodies, our body cells and tissues also get destroyed as collateral damage. Most of the modern-day diseases are the outcome of autoimmune disorders.


If we check our food intake, it is primarily processed and cooked food, much more than raw food. Although we cannot avoid eating the processed food totally, we can surely minimize our dependence on it. Cooked food can be prepared using a minimal amount of processed ingredients.

Lack of time is often cited as the reason to eat ready food. But, to consume raw foods like fruits, salads, green leaves, sprouts, nuts and seeds, not much time and cooking skills are required. If we consume 40 % raw food, 40 % cooked food with minimal processed ingredients and less than 20 % processed food, we will be able to prevent and reduce the incidence of many modern-day diseases like obesity, diabetes, hypertension, fatty liver, disorders related to hormonal imbalance like hypo/hyperthyroidism, PCOD, etc.

Our taste buds may resist this change for a few days, as for a long time we have not enjoyed natural tastes and have gotten used to strong tastes. But, after a few days of practice, we can alter our taste perception and start enjoying natural tastes. With this little change, if the reward is better health, then it is definitely worth doing.

For more information consult a nutritionist online -->


Last reviewed at:
02 Aug 2019  -  3 min read




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