Whole foods are as mother nature intended with the correct balance of fibre, vitamins and minerals
Whole foods are processed and refined as little as possible and are grown in a natural way without chemical pesticides or synthetic fertilisers
When consumed, they should resemble the original ‘whole’ food as closely as possible i.e. an entire apple as opposed to apple juice
What are Whole Foods?
Find out how even "healthy food", like an apple, can become unhealthy
“Whole foods“ are plant foods that are unprocessed and unrefined, or as little as possible.
Whole foods are nutrient dense so the words are often used interchangeably, however, I decided to dedicate a short section to whole foods as there is a subtle differentiation that deserves a mention.
The word “whole’, when used as an adjective, means “in an unbroken or undamaged state; in one piece’.
If I pluck an apple from a tree and hold it in my hand it would be in an unbroken state, it is a whole apple. If I decide to take the peel off the apple and put the flesh into a juicer in order to separate the liquid from the pulp. I now have three parts of the same fruit (peel, flesh and juice) and although everyone will agree that it is still an apple it most certainly is no longer whole.
If I take this one step further and decide to use the apple pulp in a cake that I am baking, I will no longer be able to separately identify the fruit once I’ve mixed it in with all the other ingredients.
In this example, I have shown that the more I process this fruit the less identifiable it is as an apple.
A fresh, organically grown juicy whole apple contains dietary fibre in its skin and core. About 10% of an apple is made up of carbohydrate and 4% of an apple is made up from a variety of vitamins and minerals. The rest of the apple, more than 80%, is water. A medium-sized eating apple contains about 40 calories; one Kilogram of fresh apples provides approximately 2100kJ of energy. Excluding the peel and core of apples from the diet halves the amount of vitamin C and dietary fibre consumed, but makes very little difference to the sugar intake.
The significance of eating a whole apple versus one that is peeled and cored becomes clearer; especially with regards to the way in which it is digested and used for energy.
The apple peel is rich in insoluble fiber, and is particularly beneficial for bowel health and regularity. Insoluble fiber binds to water rather than dissolving in it, a quality that allows it to make stools larger, softer and easier to pass. It also promotes more frequent bowel movements by keeping material moving through the intestinal tract.
By consuming the fibre in the peel, you are also ensuring that the fruit sugar in the apple (fructose) is released slowly into the blood stream thus keeping your blood sugar stable and keeping you feeling fuller for longer.
"If I were to discard the peel and pulp and were to only drink the apple juice, I would be consuming as much sugar as a bar of dairy milk chocolate"
With almost seven teaspoons of sugar in a single serving, apple juice contains more than the recommended daily amount for adults who want to stay healthy.
Furthermore, fructose is metabolised entirely by the liver and is converted straight into fat if not immediately used to supply fuel for the body!
Why juicing is not always good for you?
This leads me to my issue with the juicing fad, which has been promoted as a great way to detox and fast. From the example I have given you above, does this seem to make any sense?
Why would you remove all the beneficial pulp and fibre from a piece of fruit or a vegetable and only drink the juice? It’s ludicrous.
There are 54 grams of sugar in 500ml of Coke (if a teaspoon is 5 grams, there are 11 teaspoons in half a litre), compare that with the table above – despite the list being comprised of fruits and vegetables, do those numbers look healthy to you?
If you argue that you are getting healthy vitamins and minerals in fruit juice, I would suggest downing a multivitamin with a glass of coke, at least in that way you are consuming less sugar!
Mother nature knew what she was doing when she designed an apple – a perfect meal containing everything you need in ideal ratios. However, once you start dissecting the components, the parts are most certainly nowhere near as good for you as the whole.
This is what the pharmaceutical industry has done for ages – taken something natural and isolating the active compounds that are synthetically manufactured in a laboratory.
Take valium as an example. Scientists were able to isolate the active ingredient from the valerian root plant and chemically mimic its sedative property, however, the price of doing so meant that the man-made pills come with a list of side effects are as long as my arm!
However, if I chew on some valerian root, I will derive the same calming properties without the list of side effects. This is because the delicate balance of compounds are still intact and the plant contains substances that minimize the side effects.
So how do I eat fruit then?
There is nothing wrong with eating a piece of fruit every now and then, just make sure to eat it with the peel where possible and where not (as with melons or bananas), eat sparingly or don’t eat at all especially if you have insulin resistance or diabetes.
Foods are healthier in their whole, natural state.
Whole rolled oats are better than highly processed oats, whole full fat milk is better than skimmed milk, sweet potatoes with their skins are better than peeled ones, etc.
How to choose whole foods?
When you choose food of any kind, make sure that it resembles its natural, original form.
Stay away from highly processed, luminous coloured cereals regardless if the box states “with added minerals and vitamins”.
Commercial highly processed cereals are so far removed from any whole grain that in an experiment using mice, the poor rodents chose to eat the box that the cereal came in over the cereal itself!
Don’t let clever marketing and advertising fool you into believing their false claims.
If you still need convincing, watch a documentary called Super Size me directed by and starring Morgan Spurlock an American independent filmmaker. Spurlock's film follows a 30-day period from February 1 to March 2, 2003, during which he ate only McDonald’s food. The film documents this lifestyle's drastic effect on Spurlock's physical and psychological well-being, and explores the fast food industry's corporate influence, including how it encourages poor nutrition for its own profit.
Spurlock ate at McDonald's restaurants three times per day, eating every item on the chain's menu at least once. Spurlock consumed an average of 20.9 megajoules or 5,000 kcal (the equivalent of 9.26 Big Macs) per day during the experiment.
An intake of around 2,500 kcal within a healthy balanced diet is more generally recommended for a man to maintain his weight.
As a result, the then-32-year-old Spurlock gained 11.1 kilograms, a 13% body mass increase, increased his LDL cholesterol, and experienced mood swings, sexual dysfunction and fat accumulation in his liver.
It took Spurlock fourteen months to lose all the weight gained from his experiment following a vegan diet supervised by his then-girlfriend, a chef who specializes in gourmet vegan dishes.