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Whole Foods are Good for You

by chew.com
​Before modern food technologies and food processing came into widespread use, all of the foods humans ate were considered to be whole foods.

The term whole foods can be somewhat confusing as many people think it is synonymous with organic foods, however whole foods are not always organic and organic foods are not always whole foods. This makes determining exactly what whole foods are a bit difficult when you consider that back before modern food technologies and food processing came into the world, all of the foods humans ate were whole foods. That fact helps define the term more clearly and it becomes more evident that whole foods are those that are mainly unprocessed and unrefined in any way. The definition gets a little muddier when you consider that some whole foods today are processed and refined, but only as little as possible, and they usually do not contain any added ingredients like extra salt, sugar, carbohydrates and fat. This definition means that any truly raw and unprocessed foods like grains, beans, fruits, vegetables and non-homogenized dairy products are all considered to be whole foods.

When applied to the grains used to make bread and cereal, the grains are considered whole foods by the United States Food and Drug Administration when the grains used are whole grains that still contain the bran, endosperm and germ of the original grain that was harvested. Whole grains are considered healthy foods as shown by the Federal Dietary Guidelines issued by the U.S. Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion that recommend eating at least three servings of whole grains each day. Eating a diet rich in whole unrefined foods like whole grains, dark green and yellow vegetables and fruits, beans, nuts and seeds can help prevent general health problems and reduce the risk of developing certain cancers and heart disease due to the presence of high concentrations of anti-oxidant phenolics, fibers and other phytochemicals in them.

Because people today eat so many foods that are not whole, it has given rise to the use of nutritional supplements to get the essential nutrients people might otherwise be lacking. However, the most recently published Dietary Guidelines for Americans state that your nutritional needs should be met primarily through your diet and not through the use of supplements because whole foods deliver better nutrition as a natural source of complex micronutrients, dietary fiber and protective phytochemicals. Nutritional supplements are not necessarily bad for you, but they cannot deliver the same nutrients and benefits of whole foods. This allows whole foods to offer greater nutrition than supplements because they contain a greater variety of micronutrients than most supplements do. Whole foods also deliver dietary fibers as well as antioxidants and naturally occurring phytochemicals that supplements do not. Whole foods are also much better at protecting the body against cancer, heart disease, diabetes and high blood pressure as well.


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