What exactly are whole foods? If you aren’t certain, you’re not alone – many people have heard the term but don’t necessarily understand the meaning.
Whole foods are simply foods that are found in nature and aren’t processed. Naturally rich in nutrients, whole foods are ideal for the body because their nutrients are easily absorbed. Quite simply, whole foods help the body perform at its best. So how can you implement more whole foods into your diet?
Say No to Processed Foods
Processed foods and snacks such as crisps, biscuits and baked goods, among others, contain empty calories, sodium, sugar and preservatives. Much of the nutritional value a natural food has is lost in the manufacturing process.
Most processed foods contain a list of chemicals which are required to make them. They are generally mass-manufactured and pre-packaged. Processed foods generally cannot match the amount of nutrition found in whole foods.
Eat Fruits and Vegetables
Replace the sweet jar in your home or office with a fruit bowl.
All fruits and vegetables are whole foods, unless they are mixed into a packaged product. Eating more fresh fruits and vegetables supports a longer, healthier, more energetic life. Energy-boosting whole foods include raisins, nuts, apples, beans, rice, spinach, salmon, lean meats, eggs and bananas.
Munch on Nuts and Seeds
Nuts and seeds are also whole foods. Almonds, pumpkin seeds and walnuts all contain omega-3 fatty acids which are especially beneficial to the body. Sprinkle some immune-boosting flax seeds on your salad. Eat sunflower seeds to curb your appetite.
According to Dr. Mike Roussell, hemp seeds are an excellent whole food. They contain omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, which are healthy for the heart and brain. Raw hemp seeds contain many antioxidant vitamins and can help lower blood pressure.
Add Whole Foods High in Protein
Foods high in protein support lean muscle mass and are the building blocks of a healthy diet. There are many naturally protein-rich whole foods. Lean meats are examples of this. Examples of meat sources that rank high in the protein department include beef steak, pork chops and turkey.
Asparagus, broccoli, cauliflower, black-eyed peas, and green beans are all vegetables that contain a significant amount of protein. According to Livestrong, the fruit which tops the list in protein content is cantaloupe at 11%. Strawberries and oranges both contain more than 7% protein. Peanuts and walnuts are also high in protein.
Complete protein combinations are especially beneficial to the body. Complete proteins are formed when two different foods with complementary amino acids are combined together. Popular ethnic dishes such as rice and beans are an example of this. Rice and beans are whole foods that can pack as much protein as a steak. Other examples of complete proteins include: lentils with rice and corn with lima beans.
Say Yes to Superfoods
All superfoods are whole foods. Coined by Dr. Steven Pratt, “superfood” is a term used to describe whole foods that are very high in antioxidants. As explained by CNN Health Writer Jacque Wilson, superfoods contain high levels of vital nutrients and at the same time are also low in calories. As a result, people commonly lose weight by eating them without even trying.
Acai, peppers, and wheatgrass are all excellent examples of superfoods that are beneficial to your health. Raw honey, another superfood, does not go through any pasteurisation or processing. Eating raw honey can combat indigestion, as well as provide a source of natural energy.
Let us know what some of your favourite whole foods are!
(Photo courtesy of Flickr user Andy Fell.)