The more processed a food is, the more the nutrient density decreases.
Likewise, the more minimally processed a food is (whole foods like whole grains, nuts, eggs , fresh veggies and meats) the more vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients and zoo nutrient they contain.
While there is still a ton of research to be done, one thing we know with certainty is people are healthier when their diet consists of more whole foods and less refined foods.
There are several reasons for this but the main reasons come down to the fact that the more processed a food is the more likely is has less nutritional value. Things like fiber, essential fatty acids, vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients and zoo nutrients tend to be lacking in processed foods.
Usually processed foods are much higher in preservatives, additives fillers, sugar, sodium, unhealthy fats refined starch and less than desirable chemicals.
To give you an example, here is a quick comparison of two different meals, one more processed, one not.
4 ounce chicken tenders with several restaurant size French fries, no condiments.
792 calories, 28 grams of protein, 72g of carbohydrates, 40.4 grams of fat.
Now for the more whole food approach…
4 ounce grilled chicken breast, 150 grams of roasted sweet potato wedges and 125 grams of green beans.
375 calories, 40.5 grams of protein, 31.8 grams of carbohydrates and 5.6 grams of fat.
WOW! As you can see, you can eat a lot more- not starve- and create more of a calorie deficit with the whole food selection. That’s a difference of 417 calories, 12.5 grams in the protein department and 34.6 grams more fat content. You’re also getting a heck of a lot more nutrients in the whole food option because of how it is cooked.
This is just one comparison and sure you could make many more, but it’s still pretty eye opening.
It makes sense that a diet full of minimally processed whole foods can lead to lower rates of cancer, heat disease, depression, type two diabetes…and that is just to start.
Whole Foods also tend to be rich in fiber and protein- and a diet rich in fiber and protein leads to what? Feelings of being full and satisfied. They are also usually lower in calories, making it easier to control weight than a diet full of processed, refined foods.
When you think of successful diets, regardless of which “one”, what do they all have in common? Minimally processed foods.
Now I realize eating a diet completely composed of whole, non processed foods can be challenging. Especially in the busy world we live in today. So rather than going off the deep end, try to look at your meal planning like this…
How can I make this better?
Let’s look at this from the spectrum of More of This, Some of This, Less of This.
Eat MORE lean protein like chicken breast, turkey breast, fish and bison. Eat SOME medium lean meats like minimally processed lean deli meat, jerky, and chicken sausage. Eat LESS fried meats, hot dogs and even protein bars. They are okay in a pinch, but you don’t to make it a daily habit. Let’s play the More, Some, Less game with carbohydrates. MORE whole grain, black or wild rice, SOME white rice, LESS ramen noodles.
You will likely never be able to perfect a 100% whole food diet, but you can make progress by focusing on making your food choices “just a little bit better.”
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