Processed vs. whole foods
November 5, 2007
There are only two categories of foods: whole foods and processed foods. A healthy balanced diet should be primarily whole foods with restricted consumption of processed foods. There are numerous ways to differentiate between these two.
Generally speaking, processed foods are produced using manufacturing methods to transform raw ingredients into neatly packaged goods, which have a longer shelf life. Some of the artificial ingredients used include monosodium glutamate (MSG), flavors, preservatives, hydrogenated oil, fillers, and artificial sweeteners. Usually, consumers can prepare them quickly allowing immediate intake.
Disappointingly, they don’t offer much in nutritional value. Most likely, it’s processed food if it’s wrapped in several layers of plastic, cardboard, and/or foil, and it didn’t exist until after 1903 when the hydrogenation process was invented. In addition to being excessively advertised, this food category is well funded by government subsidies. These foodstuffs are located on the shelves of the inside middle aisles in grocery stores. Examples of processed foods include sodas, cereals, and crackers.
On the other hand, whole foods are grown in orchards, gardens, or greenhouses, are unprocessed and unrefined, and have a shorter shelf life. These foods are authentically flavorful, have vibrant colors, and rich textures. Moreover, they are full of the micronutrient vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, phytochemicals, and fiber. Typically, they require longer preparation times. In contrast, they receive very little media advertising, and are not well funded with government subsidies. When you are in grocery stores, these foods are mainly found on the store’s wall aisles to the sides and back of the store. Additionally, this food category can be found at farmers markets, and at fresh fruit and vegetable stands. Examples of whole foods include unpolished grains, fruits, and vegetables.
Four Basic Nutrients
The four essential basic nutrients are water, carbohydrates, fat, and protein. These four are the foundation of a healthy diet. In any case, all food is composed of various combinations of nutrients.
Carbohydrates supplying energy are found mostly in plant foods such as fruits, vegetables, peas, and beans. They are converted into glucose providing energy for the body’s cells, the brain, and red blood cells, or stored for future use in the liver, or in body fat. Sixty percent of daily calories should come from mainly complex carbohydrates to provide the minimum recommended daily requirement of fiber.
Fats are the most concentrated source of body energy. Recently, too much negative attention has been focused upon fats. Fats are not an enemy and are needed throughout life to support growth and provide energy. Unfortunately, consuming excessive amounts of fat can contribute to many health problems.
Proteins are the building blocks making up body tissues, muscles, skin, and organs. When consumed, protein is broken down into amino acids providing the body with energy for various vital functions. Examples of good sources include meat, fish, eggs, beans, nuts, and seeds.
Regrettably, health problems arise when you consume too much or too little of any nutrients. Instead, endeavor to consume a variety of foods to ensure you get a mix of nutrients. In summary, for a healthy well balanced diet make it a habit to choose unrefined whole foods such as fruits, vegetables, peas, beans, and whole-grains, as opposed to refined processed foods such as soft drink sodas, candy, cookies, and cakes.
by Debby Bolen/author and registered nurse