Articles & Recipes

Choose Fresh, Whole Foods

March 18, 2019

Camilla Saulsbury, author of 5 Easy Steps to Healthy Cooking, says to choose foods that are fresh and natural over refined, highly processed foods. Whenever possible, opt for local, seasonal, organic products.

Whole foods are just what they sound like: foods that are unprocessed (or processed and refined as little as possible) and as close to their natural state as possible. Fruits and vegetables are perfect examples. You can eat them fresh from the garden, skin and all. By contrast, processed foods have been significantly altered from their natural state; they typically have fewer vitamins and minerals and less fiber, not to mention a laundry list of unpronounceable additives that serve as fillers, enhancers or preservatives.


 Eating a diet rich in whole foods - notably fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean protein - supports optimum health and the loss of extra pounds and will fuel your body for all of your daily activities. Additionally, an increasing body of research indicates that the vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients derived from whole foods can protect the body against a variety of chronic diseases, including cancer and heart disease.


The simplest first step is to avoid processed foods - including fast foods - as much as possible. But that does not mean all packaged foods are off-limits: whole-grain cereals and breads, dried beans and legumes, whole-grain pasta, brown rice and canned tomatoes are all examples of healthy, minimally processed foods. The key when choosing packaged foods at the grocery store is to look for short ingredient lists; the more "stuff" in the list, the more processed it is. Watch out for words like "enriched" and ingredients that sound like they were created by a mad scientist. And avoid packaged foods containing high-fructose corn syrup and products with any kind of sweeteners near the top of the ingredient list; these are good signs that the item is highly processed.


Once your grocery cart is stocked with minimally processed dry goods, the second step is to concentrate your shopping in the fresh foods sections of the grocery store: the produce section, filled with delicious fruits and vegetables, the meat section (look for lean cuts of meat), the fish counter, and the dairy and eggs section. And don't forget the frozen foods section: fresh fruits and vegetables are flash-frozen at their peak and are a convenient and affordable way to add produce to your meals.


Third, shop at farmers' markets, particularly from late spring to late fall. Not only do farmers' markets offer a broad range of fresh, local whole-food options, these foods are also typically available at a great price. When your favorite food is in season, you can buy extra to freeze for the winter months. Check your local newspaper, as well as city or county websites, for listings of markets, including their locations and opening dates.


Eating a diet rich in whole foods supports optimum health and the loss of extra pounds.



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