We've all heard about whole foods but what- really- is all the buzz about and why is it important?
Whole foods are those which are consumed in as close to their original form as possible. They are minimally processed or refined, have no additives, chemicals, preservatives or artificial substances. They haven’t been changed. When foods are broken down, heated, fractionalized, or otherwise stripped down during processing they lose vital properties and much of their nutritional value.
Fiber is a key component lost during processing. Fiber is important for three reasons: Fiber helps to absorb sugar slowing its release from fruits and grains, it’s essential to helping us feel full and satisfied, and it helps to keep us regular.
Nutrients: Whole food provides whole nutrition, not just parts of it. You miss out on many beneficial nutrients in processed or refined foods. Whole foods retain all the minerals, vitamins, enzymes, phytonutrients, and antioxidants in their bioavailable form. All that goodness remains available to your body on a cellular level promoting health across the board.
Absorption: Trust Mother Nature; she’s really smart. Often nutrients are present together in whole foods because they work synergistically. One nutrient is often responsible for making the most of another or aiding in its absorption. For example, spinach has vitamin C and iron. Vitamin C helps your body absorb iron. Sometimes we all need a little help making the most of what’s available to us.
More nutrition bang for your calorie buck: Whether you’re a calorie counter or not it’s nice to know you are getting more nutritional value per calorie with nutrient-rich, whole foods.
Ditch the Chemicals and Additives: Not only do we not need them, our bodies don’t even know what to do with them. Did you know that 56% of our calories come from three sources that were non-existent when our genes were developing; refined sugar, bleached flour and vegetable oils?
“If it comes from a plant, eat it. If it was made in a plant, don’t” is a good rule of thumb. Barring that, read labels. Beware of sugar in its many forms; there are 57 names for sugar and avoid ingredients you can’t pronounce. Except for quinoa (keen-wah) because 1. now you know how to pronounce it and 2. it’s an ancient, high protein grain. Happy eating.
Mary Lee Blackwell is a health ambassador living in Old Lyme. She’s a real mom with a real life who likes to share easy health with others. Because let’s face it; if it’s not easy, it’s not happening. Follow her on twitter @MLBlackwell10. Get in touch firstname.lastname@example.org or visit her website maryleeblackwell.juiceplus.com.