What are whole foods? Does one whole chocolate or one whole box of cookies count? Unfortunately, or fortunately, depending on how you look at it –, no. Whole foods are natural foods. Your vegetables and fruits are whole foods. Your unpolished grains, oatmeal, nuts, seeds and non-homogenized milk are whole foods. Your unprocessed meat, poultry and fish are whole foods.
In short, pretty much all unprocessed and unrefined foods or those who only undergo a little refining and processing before being consumed are considered whole foods. Whole foods do not contain any added sugar, salt or other preservatives. Obviously, cured meats like bacon and hotdogs, cannot be categorized as whole foods.
Why is a whole food diet so much advocated today? What are its benefits? We can think of 7, and we’ve listed them below:
1. They are chockfull of vitamins and minerals that our bodies need for optimal health. Because they haven’t undergone processing yet, vital nutrients are not yet lost and they retain their health-giving benefits compared to processed foods that have already lost much of their nutritive power. Fruits like apples, oranges, berries, mangoes, grapes and vegetables like broccoli, asparagus, kale, carrots, squash, celery and others are whole foods that you need to eat everyday. Consumption of 9 servings each day strengthens the immune system and keep our hearts healthy.
2. Whole grains, barley, brown rice and oats have high amounts of fiber that keep our digestive system functioning well. They also naturally detoxify the body of harmful toxins that cause a wide range of diseases from simple stomachaches and digestive upsets to serious ones like colon cancer. Fiber also keeps our hearts functioning well. The Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion recommended that individuals consume at least three servings of whole grains everyday to lower their risk of cancer and heart disease.
3. Whole foods have less fat and hence, keeping “bad” cholesterol levels down. It also keeps problems like obesity and heart-related illnesses at bay.
4. They have low glycemic index values. Whole foods do not cause spikes in the glucose and insulin levels of the body. Raised amounts of these are potentially harmful. Diabetics know this for a fact.
5. They do not cause one to overeat. Because they are full of nutrients, fiber, vitamins and minerals, whole foods need time to be digested properly. Besides, whole foods are generally more filling and as a result keep one from consuming too much food, thus lessening calorie intake and preventing obesity and other corresponding illnesses. This also results to more energy and vitality in performing work or doing exercise.
6. Proteins can also be taken from lean unprocessed meats and fish. Moreover, fish like tuna and salmon are rich in omega-3 that have been proven to lower triglyceride levels which prevents heart attacks. Omega-3 has also been linked to improved mood and overall better psychological health.
7. Whole foods are free of harmful chemicals like preservatives and genetically-modified substances that contribute to the build up of toxins in the body. BOLA TANGKAS