Why Missing Out On Whole Foods Robs Us Of Good Nutrition

You’ve been robbed! If you’re eating food that’s been processed and refined, you’ve been swindled out of all the good stuff in food.It’s a terrible development, but it’s true. We took out the nourishing things in food, leaving our shelves filled with food that’s empty of nutrition.As whole food nutritionists and researchers, Sally Fallon and Mary Enig, Ph D, explain in the beginning of their cookbook, Nourishing Traditions, “In no period of our history as a nation have Americans been so concerned about the subject of diet and nutrition. Yet… in no period of our history as a nation have Americans eaten so poorly.”[1]Despite being a wealthy nation, we’re literally starving. Despite the fact our waistlines are growing, our nutrition has declined.And the simplest way to explain this paradox is by understanding more about the whole foods we gave up over the course of generations in favor of processed, weak, and empty food. Ironically enough, historically people gave up whole foods as they gained wealth. Whole, unprocessed foods were associated with poverty while refined foods were associated with privilege.However, now we’re learning that we got the raw end of the deal when we traded in whole foods for refined ones. We literally gave away the gold in food. Because when we gave up these “primitive” forms of food, we gave up scores of nutrients we needed to thrive.What Is A Whole Food?What is whole food? Whole food is food that is minimally processed or refined. It has most of its edible parts intact. Whole foods include molasses or Rapidura sugar as opposed to white sugar… whole wheat flour instead of white flour… brown, black or rose rice instead of white rice.When we refine foods, it usually means we’re removing the more complex-tasting, sometimes harder to digest but nutritionally rich parts of the food. With grains like rice and wheat, it means removing the outer bran and germ. These parts of the grains give us vitamin E, healthy fats and protein. When removed, we lose as much as 25% of the grain’s protein along with at least 17 nutrients, according to the Whole Grain Council. [2]And while usually we think of whole foods with regards to grains, it happens throughout our food system.Sugar processors bleach off the iron in dehydrated cane sugar and molasses.With fruits, we often settle for only the sugary juice, removing the fiber-rich pulp. Additionally, many fruit juices are pasteurized at high heats, robbing you even more of nutrients in fruits.And even when we eat wholesome vegetables, we often peel off edible skins that are loaded with nutrients. For example, most of potato’s nutrition – such as vitamin C and protein – is found in the skin.Now obviously, many foods we can’t eat without any processing. You need to peel bananas. The outer husks of grains are completely inedible. And we can’t eat potatoes without cooking them.Nonetheless, while food may require some processing to make it edible, by minimizing this as much as possible, you can ensure you’re getting the most nutrition out of your foods.Where Can You Get Whole Food?The best way to eat more whole foods is to take control of your food in its rawest form. Buy whole raw ingredients and prepare them yourself. This way, you can be sure you’re getting all the nutritious parts of the food and minimizing nutrient loss by cooking them carefully.

Buy whole, organic fruit where you’ll know you’re getting the skin where much of the antioxidants and fiber is as well as the fibrous pulp. Ditch the fruit juices.

Opt for whole grains like steel-cut oats, whole wheat and brown rice. Be careful: By law whole wheat products need to be made of 100% whole wheat. But there are no such requirements for “multigrain” products or “whole grain” products. The Whole Grains Council has created a 100% Whole Grains stamp that verifies 100% whole grains in each serving. But without this stamp, “whole grains” on the label is open to interpretation. Check the ingredients listing carefully.

If you want a little sweetness, opt for unprocessed or minimally processed sweeteners like raw honey, rapidura sugar and maple syrup. While these sweeteners can still spike your blood sugar and thus should be eaten in moderation, you’ll still get a good dose of nutrients in every bite. And these nutrients can even help slow down the delivery of sugar to your bloodstream.

If you eat meat, look for minimally processed meats. Instead of ham, salami or deli turkey breast, opt for grassfed meats and wild-caught seafood you cook and prepare yourself.
Some foods are difficult to prepare for consumption at home and need some kinds of processing at the industrial level to make them edible.For example, chlorella algae’s indigestible exterior cell wall makes it impossible for humans to access chlorella’s full nutrition. Chlorella manufacturers have to pulverize this cell wall in order to increase its bioavailability without sacrificing the whole food nutrition of chlorella. However, while they may break down the cell wall, quality manufacturers leave the cell wall fragments in the chlorella mix for its fibrous good nutrition.Don’t Get Swindled Out Of Whole FoodsDon’t get robbed nutritionally! Shop carefully. Read labels. Spend a little more time in the kitchen. Bring more whole foods into your diet and join the growing number of people who have rediscovered the truly rich nutrition in these simple foods.You’ll soon discover how well good nutrition pays off in the long run!Sources:[1] Fallon S et al. Nourishing Traditions: The Cookbook that Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats. Washington DC: New Trends Publishing, 2001, p. 1[2] What Is A Whole Grain? Whole Grains Council website.

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