Is Whole Food Healthier? (Video)

What are whole foods? In this video from the Nourish Video Encyclopedia, pediatrician and healthy food advocate Dr. Nadine Burke discusses the difference between processed and whole foods.

Whole vs. Processed
Whole foods are ingredients in their raw, unprocessed, and unrefined state, in contrast to foods that have undergone processing and preservation methods like curing, cooking, drying, or canning. As Dr. Nadine Burke, of San Francisco’s Bayview Child Health Center, says, whole foods are “the kind of foods that don’t need a label.”

Food processing extends the harvest through the seasons, prevents spoilage during storage and transport, and transforms raw ingredients into something new. Many of the foods we enjoy today, such as butter, cheese, pickles, jam, and ketchup, would not exist without food processing. Natural preservation techniques, such as fermentation, can even enhance the nutritional benefits of certain foods.

Some modern processing methods, however, deplete raw foods of vital nutrients such as fiber, vitamins, antioxidants, and healthy fats. For example, white rice is brown rice that has been milled to extend its shelf life. The milling process removes the husk, bran, and germ, destroying iron, fiber, magnesium, fatty acids, B vitamins, and other healthy minerals found in unmilled brown rice. In the US, the FDA requires that white rice be “enriched” with B1 and B3 and iron, in an attempt to add back nutrients that are naturally occurring in rice’s original, whole-grain state.

Industrially processed foods may also contain highly processed additives and preservatives of dubious nutritional value, including sugar and high-fructose corn syrup, hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils (also known as trans fats), refined grains (such as bleached white flour), MSG, and artificial colorings, flavorings, and sweeteners. Many of these processed ingredients are actually detrimental to our health. Corn syrup, a corn derivative that is used as a sweetener in many processed foods, has been linked to a host of health risks, including obesity, diabetes, and heart disease.

The Whole You
Seek out unprocessed or minimally processed foods, such as raw fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and real dairy, fish, and meat. Buy direct from the farmers market, or shop around the perimeter of the grocery store (as Michael Pollan recommends), where fresh foods are generally shelved.

When buying packaged foods, read labels. Avoid artificial ingredients, like corn syrup, trans fats, and difficult-to-pronounce additives. Foods that have fewer—and more recognizable—ingredients are generally better for your health.

Enjoy whole foods in their raw goodness or simply cooked or prepared. Besides the nutritional benefits, adding more whole ingredients to your diet means that your food will be fresher, tastier, and closer to the source—which is better for your health and the environment.

Resources
How does a glass of orange stack up nutritionally to a whole orange? Check out the nutritional facts on Nutrition Data. The World’s Healthiest Foods provides a wealth of whole food info, recipes, and tips. For recipes and tutorials on real food cooking, go to The Nourished Kitchen.

What whole foods do you enjoy?

Related:
Could You Go 100% Unprocessed?
12 Foods With Super-Healing Powers
6 Big Ideas on Eating Green

 

38 comments

Chris Ray
Chris R5 years ago

Thanks for the great info!~ =)

Sonny Honrado
Sonny Honrado5 years ago

Go for whole food. Whenever eating whole food is possible.

Kerry Stuparitz
Kerry G5 years ago

thanks! great article and video.

Diane S.
Diane S5 years ago

Great article !

Petra Luna
Petra Luna5 years ago

Good info.

KrassiAWAY B.
Krasimira B5 years ago

Yes, of course!

Jamie J.
Jamie J5 years ago

As someone who has pressured family to try and buy healthier foods, I understand the difficulties of switching to whole, organic, and healthy food. Habit, comfort, and convenience are usually as big a challenge as finding the foods you need to be at your dietary best.

Charlene S.
Charla D5 years ago

Short answer ---Yes!

Mara C.
Past Member 5 years ago

Thanks for this info. It's enlightening ;D

Maria S.
Maria S5 years ago

Thanks for sharing this excellent article and link to the Nourished Kitchen website. I could say I process my own food. I have a fruit/veggie garden, small but every year I add a fruit or/and veggie or two.
I guess I could say I'm fortunate to live in a country where we can still find real fresh food. I cook everyday and over the weekends make a dessert or two, bake bread and depending on what fruit and veggie is in season I do some canning and freezing, to have available the rest of the year. I basicly use olive oil (very very rarely I'll use butter) homemade yogurt instead of any other kind of cream or cream fresh) and honey if needed in a breakfast recipe. dessert or sweet snacks instead of sugar.