by Lauren Swanger, holistic health enthusiast and research journalist
The importance of eating whole foods cannot be overstated! When you eat whole foods, you are eating food in its most natural, and desirable state. You are getting all of the vitamins, minerals, and nutrients that are in the food. People sometimes confuse “organic, natural, or pesticide-free” foods with “whole” foods. Organic orange juice, grown locally, may be healthier for you than a more processed version, but it is still not a whole food. An orange is a whole food. It contains the juice, and all the bits and pieces that processing removes. It contains nutrients that help keep your immune system strong and protect you from disease.
Eating healthy really means eating whole foods. Whole foods are those that have not been processed, refined, and injected with chemicals. Eating a diet high in whole foods such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains have been associated with a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, many types of cancer, and Type 2 diabetes. Processed foods contain added sugars, fats, and salt, any of which can contribute to weight gain, lethargy, and malnutrition. Consuming whole foods will not only supply essential nutrients, fiber, and vitamins, but may also contribute to weight loss as they will fill you up without adding many calories.
Whole foods are also, without question, less expensive than processed food but they also take longer to prepare. The longer preparation time is an excuse for many people not to eat whole foods, but all it takes is a bit of planning. Cooking whole chicken breasts, steaming some brown rice, and blanching broccoli or cauliflower on the weekend sets up some delicious lunches or dinners for the week. No one says it must be all or nothing, either. Incorporating whole foods into your diet, one food at a time, is better than a diet consisting mainly of take-out or frozen meals. Add a variety of fruits, vegetables and whole grains to your daily meal plan as you reduce the amount of processed foods you consume.
Your body, and your health, will thank you.