Why eating wholefood is great for you and for the planet!

You may have heard the phrase ‘wholefood diet’ numerous times and have an idea of what is meant by it, or do you?

A whole food diet basically means that you try and largely eat foods that have minimal or no processing before you prepare them. This could be vegetables, grains, beans, meat or fish in their raw state which you then process them by washing, chopping, cooking and adding flavour to them. If you’re buying food that is ready to heat and eat then it is likely to be in a different form than its natural state by chopping, mashing or slicing and had ingredients added to it and then precooked to some degree.

Similar to what you might do to food right? But as soon as you begin processing many foods they begin to break down and degrade and along with losing moisture, nutrients such as vitamins are lost too. The longer a processed food needs to be stored ready for sale the longer this degradation occurs and therefore preservatives are added to stop or at least slow the process. So precooked or pre-packaged will require some form of preservation such as packaging, chilling, freezing and adding preservatives to ensure it’s still in a good state to eat. Sadly, this often results in lower levels of nutrients in these foods. You may have noticed that breakfast cereals often boast about the vitamins and minerals added to them on the packet. These nutrients are added back into these cereal-based foods because during the processing they are lost from the original wholefood.

What is the benefit of eating wholefoods?

Unprocessed foods tend to have higher levels of nutrients, such as vitamins and minerals, antioxidants and beneficial plant chemicals. The nutrients found in fresh food are in their natural form and are often better absorbed by the body.  Food that sits on a shelf ready to eat requires additives such as preservatives to stabilise them and stop them going off. If you’re preparing food fresh you won’t be taking in these unnecessary compounds and so your body won’t be working so hard to remove them from your system.

Fresh vegetables will often have less packaging as they can be transported raw from producer to retailer to the consumer without long storage periods in between. This can result in less waste going to landfills or needing to be recycled. For example, buying local, seasonal vegetables can ensure you’re getting really fresh produce with minimal transport involved and very little packaging. Better for you and the environment.

One tip I like to suggest is to think about what you can add to your diet rather than what you should take out. By trying a few foods that you don’t normally eat you will have the opportunity to not only add a wholefood but also to reduce a processed food each time. Try adding some radishes or cooked beetroot to your salad, add a handful of berries and a few raw pumpkin seeds to your cereal in the morning and slice a mango into some live yoghurt for a quick dessert. Over a period of time, you might find that your new favourite foods are crowding out the boring old packets of food. Better for you and better for your environment.

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