How to Determine If Food is a Whole Food

Many people wonder exactly what qualifies as a whole food and what does not. They are so used to seeing processed food in the grocery store that they begin to question what actually counts as a whole food. Is pasta a whole food? Is canned fruit? How about frozen vegetables? While different people have different standards for whole food, a vegetarian diet that focuses on whole foods generally advocates eating mostly fresh fruits and vegetables with moderate amounts of whole, unrefined grains and healthy fats. With that in mind, here are some questions that you can ask yourself when you are wondering if a particular food fits in with an overall whole food diet.

A bit of healthy food

The first question is about form. Does the food you are considering look like it is in its natural form? In other words, is it something that your great grandmother would recognize? Foods that adhere as closely as possible to their natural form are best when you are following a vegetarian whole food diet. For instance, a whole apple is the natural form of that fruit. Apple slices or chopped apples for a fruit salad are also natural forms. Apple-flavored cereal is not the natural form for an apple to take.

The next question to ask of a food is about the number of ingredients. How many ingredients does this food have? Do you recognize them all? Many processed foods have a list of ingredients that sounds like it came straight from a chemistry lab. In many cases that is exactly where it came from. When you are trying to eat whole foods you should focus on foods that have as few ingredients as possible. An apple has one ingredient- the apple itself. Applesauce could conceivably be considered a natural form of the apple. However, many commercial varieties of applesauce contain more than just pureed apples. They may contain some water, which could be acceptable. Other varieties contain added sugar or even corn syrup, which would not be acceptable for a whole foods diet. This is why it is important to read the labels for foods that you are considering.

The next question is a bit different. Does the food that you are considering include as much of the whole food as possible? When you are striving for a whole foods diet, the whole form of the food is considered to be the best. Think of the difference between a whole apple and a cup of apple juice. The whole apple contains fiber, the peel, and all of the other things that make up an apple. A cup of apple juice contains none of this. It has sugar that affects your body more quickly because it does not have the fiber of the apple to slow it down. In many cases, apple juice also has sugar or corn syrup added to it.

If you are striving for a vegetarian whole food diet, you will also want your food to be free of pesticides. When you are eating food in its natural state you want to avoid chemicals that may have leached into the food while it was being grown. In many cases this means purchasing organic fruits and vegetables, so look for the most benefit possible for your food dollars.

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  • Wice says
    Honestly, isn't it going a bit far when you scorn the addition of water in commercial apple sauce and say it can no longer be called a 'whole food'. Differnt apples naturally all have different water contents and homemade apple sauce which the writer says is fine, may have just as much or more water in it as commercial sauce.
  • This is very useful. I prefer all these articles which can improve the quality of our lives. And articles like which motivate you to pack your things and go abroad to travel.

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