Whole foods refer to foods that have not been processed or refined, or have undergone very little processing and refining. They are either natural or very close to their natural state, and they do not contain the harmful additives that are found in processed foods. They are highly recommended by nutritionists, because they provide maximum nutritional value.
Whole foods can be divided into several categories: fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds, and grains. Examples of whole fruits and vegetables include apples, peaches, bananas, grapes, mangoes, figs, lemons, dandelion greens, kale, carrots, tomatoes, squash, eggplant, yams, and others. Legumes are whole foods that contain high amounts of protein and very little fat, and they include chickpeas, black beans, soya beans, kidney beans, lima beans, split peas, and lentils. Nuts and seeds that are considered whole foods are not salted or artificially flavored. Examples include peanuts, walnuts, almonds, cashew nuts, macadamia nuts, pistachios, sunflower seeds, linseeds, pumpkin seeds, and sesame. Some of the types of grains that are whole grains include brown rice, amaranth, corn, whole cornmeal, hulled barley, rolled oats, oat groats, whole wheat, whole rye, millet, and popcorn.
Since whole foods are natural or near-natural, they contain the highest levels of vitamins, minerals, fiber, and other nutrients. They also have healthy natural compounds called phytochemicals, some of which are antioxidants that can prevent cell damage and boost the immune system. Examples of antioxidants that can be found in whole foods include carotenoids, flavonoids, and lycopene. It is known that whole foods can help lower the risk of many different types of cancer, as well as cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes.
Processed foods do not only have less natural nutrients, they also contain preservatives and chemicals that can be detrimental to health. Nonetheless, preservatives are not the most harmful additives. The sugar, salt, saturated fats, and trans fats that are found in processed foods can increase the risk of numerous health problems, including high blood pressure and diabetes. Processed foods also contain more calories, and they can contribute significantly to weight gain.
Whole foods are usually found in upscale grocery stores, and they are mostly sold at higher prices than processed foods. Although maintaining a diet that is rich in whole foods can be costly, it can be cost-saving in the long run. Those who eat whole foods regularly will have a healthier body, and they do not have to spend so much money on medical expenses. It is actually possible to consume whole foods without spending a lot of money, because many types of whole food are available in ordinary grocery stores.
Transitioning to a whole food diet can be difficult, but it can be achieved by taking the right steps. There is no need to cut out processed foods completely in the beginning. Instead, replace them with whole foods gradually. It is also a good idea to consume a wide variety of whole foods. This will bring a wider range of nutritional benefits and add excitement to the diet.
There are many ways to fit whole foods into one's diet. A whole food diet does not have to be boring. There are numerous recipes on the Internet for preparing delicious whole food dishes. Some examples of dishes that can be made with whole foods include peach cobbler, pear salad, mango salad, cream of broccoli soup, bean burritos, bean and avocado quesadillas, sweet potato veggie lasagna, veggie pot pie, stir-fry vegetables and rice, among others.
Here are links to more information about whole foods:
What are Whole Foods: Article that provides a detailed definition of whole foods.
Whole Food Factsheet: Fact sheet that contains basic facts about whole foods.
Understanding Whole Foods: (PDF) Comprehensive information about whole foods.
Types of Whole Foods: This web page contains a list of many different types of whole foods.
Why Eat Whole Foods: Nutrition expert explains the importance of eating whole foods.
Whole Food Nutrition: A look into the nutritional benefits of whole foods.
Benefits of Whole Grains: Discover the health benefits of eating whole grains.
Whole Foods for Kids: Learn how whole foods can make children healthier.
Whole Foods and Heart Disease: A document that explains how whole foods can help in the prevention and treatment of coronary heart disease.
Whole Foods for Fighting Cancer: This article offers effective whole food diet tips for cancer patients.
Whole Grains and High Blood Pressure: A study report suggesting that consuming whole grains may be effective in treating high blood pressure.
Switching to a Whole Food Diet: An article that explains how switching to a whole food diet can bring long term health benefits.
Consuming Fruits & Vegetables: A helpful article on how to start a whole foods diet.
What Color is Your Food?: An explanation of the health benefits of eating a variety of fruits and vegetables.
The Whole Food Diet Plan: A whole food diet plan that is effective in controlling hypertension, diabetes, and obesity.
Whole Food Recipes: This website has an extensive selection of whole food recipes.
Whole Grain Recipes: A number of recipes for preparing delectable whole grain dishes.
Whole Foods Magazine: An online magazine that is dedicated to providing information about whole foods.