Whole foods are simply foods in their complete, natural state. Many foods are “processed” to remove part of the natural food, while others have added ingredients to increase shelf life or change the taste. However, many health-conscious consumers are turning to more healthy eating habits. And whole foods are a great place to start.
Most fresh vegetables are whole foods, including starchy vegetables such as potatoes, corn, peas, and sweet potatoes. A lot depends on the form they take: for example, a baked potato is a whole food; french fries aren’t. Frozen vegetables without added sauces are usually considered whole foods; read the label to be sure. Canned vegetables often have added salt and seasonings, so they would not be considered “whole foods”.
Most fresh fruits and berries are also whole foods. Most canned fruits are packed in a sugary syrup to make them taste sweeter, so they aren’t considered whole foods. 100% fruit juice is a good choice in place of sugary soft drinks.
Skinless chicken breast is a whole food; chicken nuggets aren’t. Lean beef and unprocessed seafood are also whole foods.
Whole wheat bread and pasta are whole foods because the entire grain, including fiber, is used. Processed meats have added preservatives and salt, so they are not considered whole foods.
While unpasteurized milk is considered a whole food, it isn’t generally recommended for children due to concerns about bacterial contamination. Furthermore, pasteurized milk has Vitamin D added to build strong bones.
For a healthy snack, have plenty of fresh fruits and nuts on hand. For a refreshing summer treat, try freezing seedless grapes.
Some whole foods are actually tastier than the processed alternatives. For example, make pancakes or waffles with whole wheat flour and serve with real maple syrup for a breakfast treat.
Whole foods often cost less that processed convenience foods since processing often adds to the cost. This is especially true of fruits and vegetables in season. You can save even more by shopping for produce at your local farmer’s market.
While whole foods may be organic (grown without chemical fertilizers or pesticides) many aren’t. If you are concerned about the issue, ask the seller.
Whole foods may not be as quick to prepare as packaged convenience foods. However, by planning ahead, you can make the job easier, For example, if you’re slicing an onion, you can slice extra and keep it in an airtight container for the next meal. Adding more whole foods to your family’s diet can be accomplished by making a few simple substitutions and paying attention to nutrition labels.