Processed VS Whole Foods
Don’t eat anything your great-grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food.
All jokes aside, there is truth in this message. If you were to compare our shopping carts to what our ancestors ate, the main difference would be how processed our foods are today versus all the whole foods they would eat.
Whole foods can be defined as foods that haven’t been processed, refined or had ingredients added to them. This includes foods like fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds and whole grains. Processed foods on the other hand have undergone some change. This can range between being minimally processed (pre cut vegetables) to heavily processed (vegetables made into chips). Foods can be processed for many different reasons: to extend shelf life, make them more convenient, alter their nutritional composition and make them taste, look or smell different.
As you might already know, whole foods are incredibly beneficial to our health. Our bodies need the vitamins and minerals which are abundant in whole foods whilst the fiber and phytonutrients they include protect against chronic diseases like cancer and cardiovascular disease. A diet with heavily processed foods on the other hand can be excessive in calories, sugar, fat and sodium and lower in fiber and phytonutrients. This can lead to obesity, diabetes, hypertension, hyperlipidemia and certain types of cancer.
You don’t need to completely cut out all processed foods from your diet, incorporating some minimally processed foods can actually help individuals eat healthier overall. It’s best to look at the ingredients list to understand how much processing the food has undergone, a list with one or two ingredients may indicate less-processed food and a longer list typically means more processing.
As well as benefiting your health, incorporating more whole foods and less processed foods into your diet can help reduce your carbon footprint! It’s a win win!
So, eat more foods that your great-grandmother would recognize as food!