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Is It Really a Whole Food?

By Sara Butler

You've probably heard the idea of clean eating, and with the popularity of Paleo, whole foods have been thrust into the spotlight. The jury is still out on which diet is best for you, but one thing that can't be debated is how important whole foods are to your health. Of course, one of the biggest challenges is figuring out if a food is whole or not. Here's what you need to know to help you determine what a whole food is and how you can incorporate more of them into your diet.

Why Whole Foods?

Whole foods are good for you because they are usually fresh foods that have more fiber and nutrients than other, more highly processed, foods. The more fresh foods in vibrant colors you can work into your meals, the better your overall health and wellness will be.

Whole foods are basically foods that have been minimally processed, helping them to retain their nutrients. The trick is figuring out what constitutes a whole food and what doesn't.

Is It a Whole Food?

Some foods are easy to identify as a whole food. Seeds, fish, whole grain, nuts, vegetables, and fruits are all whole foods since they are basically purchased in their natural form. But there are some foods that aren't as cut and dry.

Instead of thinking about foods as either unprocessed or whole, it might be easier to think about them as minimally processed. That's because any way that a food is altered from its natural form is a type of processing, making things such as pre-cut vegetables or bagged salad technically processed foods -- even though they're good for you. Basically, you want to look for things that haven't had their nutritional profiles altered with sodium, fat, added sugars, or mysterious additives you cannot pronounce.

Look at the ingredients list on the food you want to buy. If you can identify everything that went into it to make the final product, then there's a good chance it still qualifies as a whole food. If not, then give it a pass.

A Few Questions

Another strategy you can use to identify whole foods is to ask a few questions about the food. These include:

  • How many ingredients does it have?
  • Did it grow in the earth or have a mom?
  • What has been done to the food since it was picked or packaged?

If you can answer these questions, then you can identify whether or not something is a whole food.

Whole foods are good for you, so try to identify and buy as many as you can for your continued health and wellness!

To learn more about your health, wellness, and fitness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in Lake Forest, Calif.

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