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Benefits of Eating Whole FoodsBenefits of Eating Whole Foods


Benefits of Eating Whole Foods

Foods are considered whole when they are natural and unprocessed — for example, a fresh apple is whole, but apple juice and apple-flavored snacks are not. Here are a few of the reasons whole foods have gained a reputation for being an important part of a healthy eating plan.

Unique Nutrients

Whole foods contain many nutrients that may not be present in foods once they have been processed. When edible skins are stripped away, the nutrients in those skins are also removed. Heat and other processing methods can also reduce antioxidants in fruits and vegetables.

For example, oranges are known for containing plant nutrients called citrus flavanones. Initial animal studies have shown that one of these compounds, hesperidin, may reduce high blood pressure and cholesterol. This flavanone is found in the peel of the orange and the white pulp within the orange, not in the juicy portion of the fruit. As a result, it may be lost when an orange is made into juice. Eating a whole orange and consuming some pulp may increase your intake of this potentially beneficial nutrient.

More Natural Dietary Fiber

When you eat a whole food, like a fresh berry or a grape, you consume more dietary fiber than if you drink the fruit as a juice. The edible skins, seeds, and flesh of fruits and vegetables provide valuable dietary fiber that can improve heart health and digestion.

Mindful Eating

Mindful eating helps you become more aware of your eating. This lets you recognize your hunger and fullness signals and truly enjoy your food. Mindful eating can be achieved in a number of ways, but most are associated with simply slowing down. Whole foods help slow your meal. When you have to peel a banana or remove a nut from its shell, you are prevented from eating quickly and mindlessly.

Lori Rice, M.S., is a nutritional scientist and author with a passion for healthy cooking, exercise physiology, and food photography.
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