You hear it from fitness gurus, food marketing companies, nutritionists, and blogs like this one: “fresh whole foods’ are good for you. Want to lose weight? Eat a balanced diet of fresh whole foods. Trying to add muscle? Eat fresh whole foods (with more than its fair share of protein!)
But, in the buzz about the term fresh whole food. Their full importance for your overall health and wellbeing can be lost. Its like, “yeah, yeah, I know it’s good, so what are we having on the pizza tonight?!”
To be clear, we like pizza as much as anyone. But, just to remind you of exactly why fresh, whole foods are so good for you. Let’s go through what the term fresh whole food means, word for word. For a better understanding, we’ll start at the end and work our way back.
Before you click away wondering what kind of daft blog. Is going to actually try to tell you what ‘food’ means. Ask yourself this: what does ‘food’ really mean? Yes, we eat it to stay alive. But how does it all happen?
Food keeps us alive by giving our bodies the nutrients it needs to function. The nutrients give us energy and the building blocks of growth. In the context of the term fresh whole food, it is the quality of that energy and nutrition that makes a difference.
Food energy is measured in numbers of calories (a calorie is the amount of energy or heat that is needed to raise the temperature of one gram of water by one degree Celsius).
So a calorie of food energy is the same whether it’s in a carrot or a carrot cake. But the calorie of food energy in fresh whole foods, like raw carrots, are absorbed more slowly than those in a cake, which is a processed food.
The calories in a cake are metabolized into energy relatively quickly by your body. If that fast shot of energy isn’t burned right away, your body stores the energy in its fat cells to be used later.
Except, because we live in a land of plenty and have an abundance of food, later never comes and we never use the energy in the fat cells, and we put on extra weight.
The calories in whole foods are converted to energy more slowly because, as a ‘whole’ food, their fibre and nutrient density has not been stripped away. Not only does that reduce the chances of the energy being stored as fat, but it keeps your blood sugar stable, and reduces your chances of hypertension, heart disease, diabetes, stroke, gout, and cancer, just to name just a few.
Relative to food, the word ‘whole’ generally means not processed, but intact, and closer to the natural state of the food. As an example, let’s look at the case of whole grains. Grains are considered whole when they have their three main original parts.
The Bran or outer skin.
The bran has lots of antioxidants, B vitamins, and fiber.
The Germ or embryo.
Which can potentially grow into a new plant. The germ also contains B vitamins along with protein, minerals, and healthy fats.
Which is the food supply for the germ. it contains carbohydrates, proteins, vitamins, and minerals.
When a grain is not whole, it is considered ‘refined’ or ‘processed’. That processing can remove one or more parts of the grain. White flour, for example, is made from processed grains that have had their bran and germ removed.
So the difference between whole-grain flour and processed white flour is the whole-grain flour delivers all the nutrients and fiber of every part of the grain, while the white flour delivers only the nutrients contained in the endosperm.
Fresh can mean two things in the term ‘fresh, whole food’. First, it is often has a similar meaning to the word ‘whole’. That is, ‘fresh’ food is closer to its natural state than it’s processed counterparts.
Fresh can also mean literally ‘fresh’, or at least fresher. In other words, fresh meats and vegetables are generally considered to have more of their full nutritional value versus foods that are not as fresh.
This is fuel for the ‘frozen’ camp in the “which is healthier, fresh or frozen vegetables” debate. Many dieticians and nutritionists and more than a few studies say that, because they are usually frozen on the day they are picked, frozen vegetables maintain more of their nutrients than many fresh vegetables, which can often take days to get from the farm to your table.
Now that you know exactly why eating fresh, whole foods is so good for you, you can call your Fit Food Nutritional Concierge and ask that a custom meal plan is put together just for you and that it be prepared from fresh, whole foods. Oh, and why not have your meals delivered to your door too?! Check out our website for healthy meal delivery in Toronto.