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Making Sense of Whole Foods

By Debra Rodzinak

The term “whole foods” has been used in many commercials lately and may leave people wondering, “What are whole foods?”  Whole foods are foods that limit or minimize processing.  Freezing, frying, using preservatives, cooking, roasting, and even peeling are types of processing.  A good rule of thumb to use when deciding whether a food is highly processed is to see if it looks anything like it did when it came out of the ground.  If you have a hard time telling what the food is or what is in it, chances are, it is highly processed. 

Foods that are left in their natural state are full of healthy vitamins, minerals, and fiber.  Processed foods lose much of their nutritional value.  Whole foods, on the other hand, retain most, if not all, of their nutritional value.

Advantages of Whole Foods

A diet full of whole grains, fruits and vegetables, and legumes have many health advantages.  Notable advantages of whole foods include: 

  • The rich phytochemicals found in whole plant foods
  • More vitamins and minerals compared to highly processed foods
  • Fiber rich and beneficial fats
  • Protection from disease

Disadvantages of Processed Foods

Some processing is necessary for logistical and storage reasons.  Many people who grow their own summer garden will freeze the extra fruits and vegetables to enjoy during the cold winter months.  However, highly processed foods, such as hotdogs and potato chips, often take out the healthy nutrients and replace them with fat, salt, and sugar.  Before you eat highly processed foods again, consider the following.  Processed foods can:

  • Contain more additives and preservatives than whole foods
  • Are often heavily loaded with sodium
  • Contain hydrogenated oils that clog arteries
  • Contain high amounts of sugar
  • Are high-calorie and low-fiber, which leads to weight gain

Whole Food Meals

While it may be impossible in today’s world to eat a diet based strictly on all whole foods, there are some easy ways to include more whole foods into your meals.

Some breakfast ideas include:

  • Hot breakfast grains such as steel cut oats, brown rice, quinoa, or barley mixed with organic fruit
  • Eggs scrambled with beans or tofu and a healthy serving of vegetables
  • Fresh baked whole-grain bread, toasted, with nut butter

Easy Lunch ideas include:

  • Whole-grain pita bread stuffed with beans, brown rice, and fresh vegetables
  • Salads of varying bases such as greens, vegetables, grains, or beans
  • Homemade soups containing vegetables, split peas, or lentils

Tasty dinner ideas include:

  • Vegetable stir-fry
  • Brown rice and beans
  • Roasted vegetables over quinoa

No matter what you decide to replace, whether one food item or an entire week’s worth of meals, any change from processed foods to whole foods will benefit your overall health. 

To learn more about your health and wellness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic.

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