When it comes to choosing foods that are of higher nutritional value and health benefits, in general, there is no doubt that whole food recipes are the way to go.The more studies scientists conduct on nutrition, the more they realize that we should be eating the way our ancestors did a hundred years ago.
Recent research shows that eating whole foods is the easiest way to slow down the aging process, prevent diseases, and lead a healthier lifestyle. However, our societies eat so much manufactured and processed foods that most people do not know what whole foods are. Are whole foods organic, pesticide-free crops, or locally-grown products? However, the definition of whole foods is a lot simpler.
What are whole foods?
Whole foods are any food items that are as close to their natural form as possible. This means that these foods are still intact and have all their nutrients and vitamins. Processed foods usually strip food of some of the nutrients, which means that the consumer does not get all of the benefits.
Therefore, comparing whole food recipes to processed food is the difference between cooking skinless chicken breasts with other healthy ingredients or purchasing processed chicken nuggets that have a lot of added preservatives, fats, and flavors.
Easy whole food recipes
One of the reasons why most people prefer processed foods is that they are easier to prepare. Most people are very busy, and it is less of a hassle to microwave a sandwich pocket or eat boxed breakfast cereals. However, whole foods do not have to be difficult to prepare. With a little effort and preparation, you can still enjoy whole foods without spending hours in your kitchen.
For breakfast, an omelet made from free-range eggs and grated Parmesan cheese is both easy to make and very healthy. For snacks, skip the energy bar and eat a fruit or a handful of nuts. Make a salad using fresh lettuce, tomatoes, green onions, and avocado slices, and eat it with a steak for lunch or supper. You can also make cauliflower with Brussel sprouts and eat it with grilled fish.
It is very easy to find the ingredients for these whole food recipes at your local greengrocers or at the farmers’ market. Most grocery stores also have a fresh food aisle that stocks whole foods.
Other examples of whole foods versus non-whole food recipes include:
- Drinking a smoothie made with fresh bananas, blueberries and yogurt instead of buying a slushy with blueberry flavor.
- Eating fresh fruits and vegetables instead of consuming supplements to get vitamins and minerals.
- Having fresh berries for breakfast instead of taking a breakfast bar.
One of the main reasons health experts and nutritionists believe whole foods are the best way to improve your health is because they still have all the fiber, vitamins, and nutrients that are often removed when food is processed. Examples of reasons why you should eat more whole foods include:
Research by the U.S. Department of Agriculture concluded that about a third of the population get too little vitamin C, vitamin A, and magnesium. This research also showed that more than 90 percent of the population do not get enough fiber and potassium in their diet. Yet the American Institute of Cancer Research states that these particular nutrients can lower your risk of lifestyle diseases such as cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure. Fortunately, the easiest way to rectify these nutrient shortages is by consuming whole foods.
Dietary fiber has many benefits, as it helps you feel fuller for longer, keeps your gastrointestinal tract moving, and helps regulate your blood sugar,a real stimulus when it comes to losing weight! Unfortunately, a lot of fiber is removed in processed foods.
For example, during the process of refining whole grains, the outer coat and the bran are removed, resulting in a significant loss of fiber.Whole grains, because of their iron content, also can influence our energy. While it is possible to get fiber from supplements, whole foods are a better source as they have both soluble and insoluble fiber.
Most processed foods have a lot of bad fats, including saturated and trans fats. Eating a diet of only whole foods ensures you get healthy fats, such as Omega 3 from plants and fish, and monosaturated fats from certain plants.
Phytochemicals are natural compounds found in plants. Scientists have identified thousands of phytochemicals, though countless more are unknown. Examples include the antioxidants lycopene, anthocyanins, and pterostilbene , all of which protect against cell damage. The only way to make sure you get all phytochemicals, including those that haven’t been discovered yet, is to consume whole foods.
Fewer extras and calories
Processed foods have so many extra chemicals, including preservatives and artificial colors and flavors. They also have a lot of extra sodium, fat, and sugar. Consuming whole foods reduces the number of calories and additives you take, ensuring a healthier diet.
Undiscovered food components
Nutritionists are still researching and discovering new components in plant and animal foods. Some of the unknown components may have a lot of benefit to your overall health. Since scientists do not know about them yet, they are not available in supplement form. Therefore, the best way to get the most out of your food is to eat it in its unprocessed and most natural form.
Another great advantage of using whole food recipes to cook food is that this option is cheaper than purchasing processed foods. In fact, the more processed a food item is, the higher it costs. For example, brown rice is cheaper than pre-packaged processed white rice.
The natural synergy of whole foods
Research shows that there is a natural synergy of nutrients present in whole foods that ensure consumers get the most benefit from the foods they eat. Studies show that when vitamin E, several antioxidants, and selenium are consumed naturally in food, they provide a lot of health benefits. However, taking a vitamin E and mineral supplement does not have the same effects. The reason for this may be that there are a natural interaction and combination of these nutrients in whole foods that ensure the most benefit. Therefore, extracting a single nutrient and taking it individually does not work.
The benefits of eating a whole foods diet cannot be overstated. You will feel more satiated, have more energy, and better digestion. If you are used to a processed diet, a whole foods diet requires a bit of an adjustment. However, once you get used to whole grains and fresh vegetables you will appreciate the depth of flavor these whole foods add to your diet.