Eating whole food is a healthy lifestyle, not just another popular diet. This lifestyle change is gaining a lot of positive attention these days, triggering a movement among people of all ages looking to change their way of eating and living. The advantages of adopting a whole food diet (WFD) is ripe with benefits.
Nutrient-Rich Whole Foods for Your Diet
The great thing about this diet is that it can drastically change your mind, body, and spirit. Though you will see the word diet throughout this overview, choosing to adopt a WFD is not a temporary fix. It is a lifestyle.
The key to transforming your life, however, will require a methodical approach to achieve the results you are seeking. You may know someone who has successfully leaped into this healthy way of life or perhaps you have seen a lot of traffic on blogs and social media platforms praising the results.
They more than likely did not achieve this clean way of living overnight. The journey to whole food lifestyle requires commitment and a whole lot of trial and error to witness success.
As you learn more about increasing your whole food intake, make sure you consider all the ways this means of eating might impact your health or even change the medications you are currently taking. You may need to consult your physician as you make great strides in improving the foods you consume.
What Foods Are Whole Foods?
Whole food is food that is eaten in its natural state. It is not processed and retains all its vital nutrients. It is the difference between a baked potato or chips, an apple or apple pie or a grilled chicken breast and a chicken nugget.
- This means, all fresh vegetables are whole food
- All fresh fruits are whole food
- Meat and chicken that is unprocessed and preferably come from grass-fed animals are whole food
- Fresh fish is whole food
- Eggs, especially those that come from grass-fed chickens are too
- Fresh beans are whole food
- Unprocessed nuts and seeds are whole food
Some consider a whole food diet to more plant-based way of eating. Many people confuse adopting a plant-based diet with being a vegan. It’s understandable. These two ways of eating are relatively similar.
- Whole food or plant-based followers incorporate more plant-based foods and plant proteins into their diet without the complete elimination of animal products in some instances.
- Vegan diets exclude all animal products. Keep in mind that plant-based diets may vary from person to person. For example, your qualification of what constitutes a WFD may differ from your best friend.
[thrive_icon_box color=’green’ style=’2′ image=’https://practicallongevity.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/logo-healthy-man.jpg’]In essence, a whole food diet also referred to as eating clean means that processed, packaged and junk food is eliminated and whole real food is chosen for each meal and snack.[/thrive_icon_box]
Which Fruits Are Whole Fruits?
Fruit is considered whole when it obtained from the fresh produce aisles of the supermarket and frozen fruits without added oils or dairy ingredients.
However, do not fool yourself into thinking that because you are drinking fruit juice, it counts as whole fruit. Even 100% fruit juice can be high in sugars, and keep you from taking in the necessary quantities of fiber and key vitamins that will support to any weight loss goals you might have (Source).
Take the time to learn what you like by trying a different fruit each week.
Indulge in apples, avocados, bananas, blueberries, cantaloupe, grapefruits, grapes, kiwi fruit, lemons, limes, mangoes, oranges, peaches, pineapples, plums, raspberries, strawberries, and watermelon.
What Are Whole Vegetables?
Like fruits, vegetables are another source of fiber. They are rich in vitamins and minerals as well as antioxidants that reduce our risk of cancer. Eating these foods is far better than attempting to secure fiber in the form of a pill or supplement.
The whole food philosophy considers all vegetables purchased from the produce aisles, Farmer’s markets or even your local farmer to be whole. Frozen is okay as long as nothing is added, like cheese sauce.
Canned is questionable as preservatives are added to maintain shelf life.
Choose from a wide variety of veggies including bok choy, broccoli, Brussel sprouts, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, collard greens, cucumbers, garlic, green beans, green peas, kale, onions, peppers, radish, spinach, and tomatoes to start.
What Are Examples of Tubers?
Tubers are the starch and energy of this diet –next to those whole grains you will read about in just a moment. Tubers form at the base of a root. (Source)
They store energy within the compound of the starch.Examples of tubers include turnips, potatoes, jicama, and yams.
Health Benefits of Whole Grains: Nutrients, Vitamins & Fiber
Whole grains can be useful in your battle against the bulge. They too contain fiber which can go a long way to help prevent constipation or your body’s desire to hold onto toxins.
Choosemyplate.gov says that fiber also plays a role in lowering the bad cholesterol, prevention of heart disease, and type II diabetes. In addition to high levels of fiber, whole grains contain vitamin B. (Source) Vitamin B is an absolute must if you are going to get your energy levels up and rev up your metabolism.
Next, whole grains contain iron which carries oxygen in our blood and reduces the risk for anemia which can sap energy levels, leaving you with the weight of inexplicable fatigue and the desire to do nothing but sleep.
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Finally, whole grains contain magnesium and selenium. Magnesium and selenium are another essential part of the energy equation. Magnesium helps your muscles to release energy while also helping you to build healthy bones.
The key to eating whole grains is to ensure they are 100% whole grain, this counts out white flour and all products made with it. When following a recipe that calls for white flour, try instead to replace it with whole-wheat flour (Source).
Whole Nuts and Seeds Benefits
Nuts and seeds are higher on the caloric intake scale, but they can be an ally in your war against a rumbling stomach that is demanding something more. They offer a bevy of vitamins and can be useful as a substitution for regular flour or as a condiment sprinkled on your favorite salad, snack, or meal.
Whole nuts and seeds means they are raw in their natural state without added flavorings or preservatives.
Whole Foods Diet and Beverages
You may be wondering, “Is my morning cup of coffee is safe in the world of the plant-based living?” The opinion among experts is mixed. Some feel that any consumption of caffeine can give you a false sense of energy because it acts as a stimulant. Thus, one moment you might feel great and ready to conquer the world and then a few hours later, you are rooted in the armpit of exhaustion.
Others indicate that in short, yes, you can still have that much-needed cup of coffee in the morning. Recently, the American Heart Association identified that coffee reduces our risk for heart disease. (Source)
What you put into your coffee, on the other hand, could break the rules of your WFD way of life. Remember to stay away from those troublesome sweeteners and other forms of sweetening your coffee.
There is a big difference between a cup of black coffee or even a cup with a little milk versus the coffee houses’ Mocha Frapuccino.
Your goal on the WFD is to avoid drinks with added sugars, preservatives, and flavorings and fats.
You may want to consider investing in a juicer. You will want only to drink fresh fruit juice.
WebMD reports that green tea is another option. Skim or soy milk is acceptable, and you can never go wrong with drinking water. (Source)
Whole Protein Foods
Fresh fish, seafood, chicken, red meat, and pork are all whole foods when they are purchased from the meat department or from your local butcher and unprocessed in any way. Eggs are a good source of whole protein.
It’s always best when meats and eggs come from grass-fed animals or organic farming methods as these will be lacking in antibiotics or additives put into feed given to traditionally farmed animals. Grass fed cow milk is also a great choice.
Dried beans that you cook yourself, so you control the ingredients, are also whole food.
What Are Whole Foods and Why Are They Healthy? [16 Benefits]
Thanks to the reduction of processed foods and choosing foods that are closer to nature, the whole food diet receives high marks for helping you to improve your overall health and reduce the risk of illness and disease. Here are a few other ways the WFD promotes health.
1. Whole Food Diet and Nutrition
First and foremost, when you eat whole real food you greatly improve your nutritional profile which has an incredible effect on your overall wellbeing, energy, vitality and health. Good nutrition means disease prevention, better aging and a better you.
2. Manage Your Weight, Lose Weight and Eat Better
Eating a diet rich in whole food eliminates processed and junk food that is loaded with added fat, sugar and calories. Eating clean with whole food allows you to enjoy lots of nutrient dense foods versus energy-dense foods and therefore manage your weight, lose weight and eat better on the whole.
Eating clean with whole foods means you can better manage your weight for life and finally get off the diet merry-go-round. By simply eating food in its natural state you can lose weight and maintain it for life.
Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center reports that whole food has great benefits for the obese, and for those suffering from high cholesterol, high blood pressure and glucose intolerance, which leads to type 2 diabetes.
- Skipping the fries and choosing one medium plain baked potato saves 215 calories
- 1 cup of plain yogurt with 1 cup of fresh strawberries versus strawberry ice cream saves 219 calories
These are just two examples. In the long run these amounts really add up and with whole food you get nutrients into your body, with the junk food options you do not.
Whole food is also rich in fiber, including grains, fruits and vegetables, and fiber keeps you full longer and prevents blood sugar spikes that cause out of control cravings for fatty and sugary foods. Because whole food helps to balance blood sugar levels unlike insulin trigger foods, those uncontrollable cravings for donuts, chips and candy may become a thing of the past.
A plant-based diet can work wonders for your waistline and play a significant role in weight loss efforts. One of the perks of following a whole food diet is the satisfied feeling of fullness your tummy will achieve over time.
Beans are particularly an asset in your quest for fullness. High-fiber foods require our bodies to work a bit harder to break them down. This work effort contributes energy burn without any physical exertion on your part.
Another beneficial side effect of following a WFD is the reduction in the amount of additives, sugar, and preservatives. Your body eventually learns to stop craving these foods, and you see the results on the scale.
3. WFD Reduces Inflammation in the Body
The WFD fights against inflammation which can contribute to various forms of pain ranging from muscular pain to osteoarthritis. Unfortunately, processed foods often increase inflammation in the body not only leading to pain but also an inadequate immune response leaving you more susceptible to infections and viruses.
4. Minimizes Stress Levels
WFD helps to manage those stress hormones in your body. It keeps cortisol levels low. This is vital in preventing the formation of fat around your midsection which may open the door to a whole new set of other risks.
5. Improves Menopausal Symptoms and PMS
Ladies, what you eat could help to reduce cramps or rid yourself of hot flashes. Recent studies demonstrate that women who eat plant-based foods have fewer PMS and menopausal symptoms than women who consume less.
6. Improves Blood Cholesterol
With the removal of red meat from your diet, a WFD can help to reduce the “bad” cholesterol which will also help to reduce your risk of a heart attack or stroke.
7. Whole Food Diet Makes You Look Younger
Looking to restore vitality and elasticity to your skin? Embracing this diet could be the natural cure you have been looking for in the battle against acne. WFD may help to slow the aging process and skin damage.
8. A Healthy Heart
Think of this diet as an endless cycle of detoxification. Your body can better absorb nutrients which in effect triggers your body to rid itself of unwanted waste products.
You do not experience the blood sugar spikes seen with other diets, and your mood swings decrease drastically.
How are so many of these health benefits possible? Plant-based foods contain phytonutrients, also known as phytochemicals or polyphenols. These big words translate to big things inside of your body. Surprisingly, they available in several foods that we eat every day.
9. Whole Foods Lower Risks Of Developing Type 2 Diabetes
A diet rich in whole grains, fruit, lean proteins, and vegetables lower your risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, which is at epidemic levels and primarily caused by poor diet and obesity.
10. Strengthen Your Bones
Your body needs vitamin K, calcium, and magnesium to help nurture your bones. And those found in whole vegetables absorb into the body faster and enter your system quicker.
11. Easier To Eat A Balanced Diet
Eating a diet rich in whole food makes it easy to eat a well-balanced diet, which promotes good health and vitality.
12. Improve Your Sleep
Eating highly-processed foods can make it difficult to fall asleep, stay asleep, and get quality rest. Introducing more whole foods into your diet can help you achieve quality sleep each night and wake up feeling well-rested and ready to face your day. (Source)
13. Improve Skin Health
Highly-processed foods and foods high in grease, fats, or sugars can cause your complexion to worsen and can actually cause you to break out more frequently. Introducing more whole foods provides you with key nutrients for all-natural skin health.
14. More Energy
Whole foods have all the nutrients you need to thrive and have loads of physical and mental energy throughout your busy days.
15. Whole Food Increase Your Longevity
Highly-processed foods aren’t good for you, harm your health, cause obesity and various diet-related chronic diseases.
16. Top 6 Phytonutrients You Need Daily
Beta-carotene enhances our immune systems, improves our vision, repairs our skin and protects our bone health. You will probably recognize a fruit or veggie rich in this compound instantly.
Beta-carotene is recognizable for its red, orange, and yellow coloring commonly referred to as carotenoids. Beta-carotene receives kudos in the research community for its ability to support the prevention of various cancers, heart disease, chronic fatigue syndrome, rheumatoid arthritis, stroke, and wrinkles. It is occasionally used to help improve memory and enhance muscle strength.
Medline Plus says this phytonutrient is available in orange fruits and vegetables, such as pumpkins, squash, apricots, cantaloupe, carrots and sweet potatoes. Then there is spinach, collard greens, broccoli, and kale.
Lycopene protects our bodies from various forms of cancer including breast, prostate, bladder, ovarian, colon and pancreatic cancer. It is particularly useful in the prevention of prostate cancer. The pros of this phytonutrient do not stop there.
Experts report this chemical is also valuable for treating of menopausal symptoms, high cholesterol, hypertension, and asthma. Lycopene also boosts our heart health by protecting the lining of the heart vessels. It is available in tomatoes or tomato products such as ketchup, tomato juice, sauce or paste. Also, pink grapefruit, strawberries, red peppers, watermelon, and guavas are rich in lycopene.
Lutein is excellent for eye and heart health, and it also safeguards are bodies from various forms of cancer, type 2 diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, cataracts, eye strain, and even a condition known as pre-eclampsia during pregnancy.
This phytonutrient is available in green leafy vegetables such as collard greens, kale, and spinach. Also, it is available in Brussel sprouts, broccoli, zucchini, squash, lettuce, kiwi fruit, orange juice, and artichokes.
Resveratrol not only protects the lining in our heart vessels, ultimately decreasing the risk for heart disease but it also reduces bad cholesterol, improves the health of our lungs and helps to reduce inflammation in the body. This compound protects our brain, mental and cognitive health. Another added benefit of resveratrol is its effect on liver damage not caused by drinking alcohol, blood sugar levels, and overall reduction of body fat in people who suffer from metabolic syndrome. Finally, resveratrol is said to slow the aging of our skin!This phytonutrient is available in peanuts, grapes, blueberries, cranberries, mulberries, and red wine.
We all want a healthy circulatory system, and the phytonutrient anthocyanidins are perhaps a pathway to blood vessel health.Blueberries, blackberries, plums, cranberries, raspberries, red onions, red potatoes, and strawberries all support blood vessel health.
Isoflavones are particularly useful for women in menopause. They are a form of plant-based estrogen and even resemble human estrogen (in a weaker form). These phytochemicals are also beneficial for bone health, reducing joint inflammation, lowering cholesterol and preventing breast cancer. Where do you go to get a good dose of this phytonutrient?
Stock up on your soybeans, chickpeas, and other legumes. Soybeans are a fan favorite for this particular nutrient because they contain the highest concentration of this potent compound. Soy is an excellent source for isoflavones.
Including more whole foods into your diet can help to lengthen and improve your life by enhancing your nutritional profile and therefore significantly improving your health.
Fruitsandveggiesmorematters.org reports these top six phytonutrients that you should commit to consuming each day for your health.
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