A whole foods-based diet is the best way to improve your overall health as it helps reduce your risk of heart disease, diabetes, and obesity, among other diseases. Processed foods are usually packed with unhealthy fats, sugars, and salt. They may also contain preservatives, additives, or artificial ingredients.
Fruits & Vegetables
A whole foods-based diet should include plenty of fruits and vegetables. They are a great source of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Fruits are typically sweet and juicy, while vegetables are generally savory and fibrous. Fruit juices and smoothies are a great way to get in all the fruit you need each day. These drinks also provide a good source of nutrients and antioxidants which help to prevent disease. However, they can contain high levels of sugar which can cause tooth decay and obesity. They should only be consumed in small amounts and ideally with other food.
Meat & Poultry
Meat and poultry are nutritionally valuable foods, offering relevant quantities of essential nutrients at high concentrations. Although they are also a source of fat, meat and poultry are relatively low in saturated fat compared to other food types. Meat and poultry are a healthy part of a whole foods-based diet but it’s important to choose organic and locally sourced products. This will help reduce the amount of water and energy used to produce it.
Fish & Seafood
Fish and other seafood are one of the most important sources of protein in a whole foods-based diet. They provide a good source of omega-3 fatty acids (EPA and DHA) and are lower in calories than meat. The Dietary Guidelines recommend eating 8 oz of seafood per week. However, the average American eats less than this.
Beans & Legumes
Beans and legumes are an essential part of any healthy diet. They are high in protein, vitamins, and minerals. Legumes are also a great source of fiber and have low levels of saturated fat, which can help reduce heart disease risks. They also contain compounds that promote good digestion and support the growth of health-promoting bacteria in the gut.
Nuts & Seeds
Adding nuts and seeds to your diet is a fantastic way to increase the variety of whole foods you consume. Nuts and seeds contain a variety of nutrients including protein, vitamins, minerals, and healthy fats. Nuts and seeds also provide a lot of dietary fiber. This soluble fiber slows down digestion and helps keep fats and proteins in your stomach longer.
The benefits of whole grains go beyond energy, as they also provide key nutrients such as B vitamins, vitamin E, magnesium, and iron. They reduce risks of heart disease, diabetes, and obesity. But, like fruits and vegetables, it can be hard to tell which foods are truly whole. Many products, including bread, cereal, and crackers, claim to be whole grain but aren’t.
Breads & Pasta
Many people think that bread and pasta are ‘carbs to be avoided at all costs’. However, there is some evidence which shows that eating them can actually be beneficial. This is primarily because both of these foods have a low GI ranking, meaning they don’t cause the blood sugar to rise as quickly and are therefore satiating.
Eggs & Dairy
Often overlooked, eggs are an important part of a whole foods-based diet. They are a source of protein and healthy fats, which help maintain good health. They’re also a great way to add flavor to dishes. However, they shouldn’t be mistaken for dairy, which is made from milk.