Whole foods are foods that have not been processed. When food is processed, fat, sugar and salt are usually added and important nutrients, such as fiber, are usually removed. Too much saturated fat, added sugar or sodium can increase your risk of developing a chronic disease.
Whole foods include fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains (such as oats, brown rice and barley), nuts, beans, fish, shellfish and eggs. Minimally processed foods are foods that are a little processed, such as frozen produce or whole wheat flour.
Eating mostly whole or minimally processed foods, when possible, can help you stay healthy.
Whole grains, such as brown rice or oatmeal, have more healthy fats and fiber than refined grains, such as white bread or pasta. Fiber is good for your health and may lower your risk of heart disease. Look for “100 percent whole” on the front of the package, or “whole” or “whole grain” as the first or second ingredient in the ingredient list. Choose whole grains more often than refined grains.
Fresh fruits and vegetables are whole foods. Frozen and canned fruits and vegetables are minimally processed and are also a great option. While canned foods lose some nutrients during processing, our tips below can help you choose the healthier versions.
Dried beans and lentils, nuts and seeds are whole foods that are good sources of protein. Canned beans can also be a good choice. They are full of fiber and other nutrients and have little-to-no saturated fat.