A whole food is a food in its natural, unprocessed form. For example, a fresh apple instead of apple juice or an apple-flavored snack. The phrase is also used when referring to unrefined whole grains, as well as beans and legumes. There are many reasons whole foods have gained a reputation for being an important part of a healthy eating plan.
Whole foods contain many unique nutrients that may not be present in the food once it’s processed. When edible skins are stripped away, the nutrients in those skins are also removed. Heat and other processing methods can also reduce antioxidants (like vitamin C) in fruits and vegetables.
For example, oranges are known for containing plant nutrients called citrus flavanones. Initial animal studies have shown that one of these compounds, called herperidin, may reduce high blood pressure and cholesterol. This flavanone is found in the peel of the orange and the white pulp within the orange, not in the juicy portion of the fruit. As a result, it may be lost when an orange is made into juice. By eating a whole orange and consuming some of the pulp, you may increase your intake of this potentially beneficial nutrient.
More Natural Dietary Fiber
When you eat a whole food, like a fresh berry or a grape, you consume more dietary fiber than if you drink the fruit as a juice or eat a yogurt with the fruit flavoring. The edible skins, seeds, and flesh of fruits and vegetables provide valuable dietary fiber that can improve heart health and digestion.
Mindful eating helps you become more aware of your eating. This allows you to recognize your hunger and fullness signals and truly enjoy your food. Mindful eating can be achieved in a number of ways, but most are associated with simply slowing down. Whole foods help slow your meal. When you have to peel a banana or remove a nut from its shell, you are prevented from eating quickly and mindlessly. More mindful eating has also been associated with weight loss.
Restaurants have come a long way in offering healthier options, but dining out when you are trying to lose weight can still be challenging. Sometimes the problem isn't a lack of healthy options but the temptation to stray from your plan due to the environment and your peers.
Do your research.
You know how it goes when you dine out with others. People arrive and the conversations begin, leaving you little time to closely review the menu. The need to make a quick choice puts you at risk for ordering an unhealthy option, especially if others at the table are doing so. Most restaurant menus can now be found online, so take the time to research before you sit down at the table. Have an idea of 3 or 4 healthy options before you arrive. Then, if you are put in a position to make a quick decision, you can make a smart choice.
Don’t skip the appetizer.
A major goal while dining out should be to avoid eating excess food, but that doesn’t mean you should skip a course to do it. If you show up hungry and everyone else orders an appetizer, you will have to sit and wait while they begin eating. You will likely be offered a bite, and there is a good chance it won’t be a healthy choice. Satisfy your hunger and resist giving in to unhealthy choices by ordering a nutritious option like a house salad or a cup of broth-based soup. You will feel less deprived and in better control of your food choices for the entire meal.
Read the menu description.
Some menu options look healthy at first glance until you read the full description. Buzzwords, like vegetarian, gluten-free, or light, don’t automatically mean a food is more nutritious or lower in calories. Instead, look for healthy keywords like broiled, baked, and steamed. Keep an eye out for heavy sauces and excess dressing. Ask how foods are prepared. Don’t be afraid to request less butter or ask for sauces on the side. Many times, chefs are willing to accommodate. Servers can also make suggestions that fit your dietary needs better.
Much like ordering an appetizer, it can be difficult to watch everyone else eat a dessert. If you’ve saved a few calories to enjoy something sweet, split a dessert with a friend and eat a few bites, just until your sweet tooth is satisfied. If you want to steer clear of dessert altogether, turn to the drink section. A decaf espresso or hot tea will allow you to have something to enjoy so that you don’t feel completely left out of the final course.
Green smoothies have gained popularity because they help you easily add fruits and vegetables to your diet and they can taste great. They are easy to make, but you need to know a few tips to make the most delicious and nutritious shake possible.
The type of blender can make a difference.
There are many blenders on the market and most smoothie recipes are tailored for high-powered, professional-style blenders that have multiple blades. These blenders finely chop greens and pulverise fruits like berries and bananas for a super smooth shake. If you plan to make smoothies often, these blenders can be worth the investment. Some also come with single-serve cups that make it easy to take your drink on the go. These blenders aren’t a requirement for smoothie-making, but without one, you may need to blend longer and stir the ingredients often to get the right consistency.
Beware of bitterness.
Greens add a slight bitterness to smoothies that is pleasant when paired with naturally sweet ingredients. But too many vegetables might make your smoothie unappetizing. If you try a green smoothie and dislike it, don’t swear them off for good. Experiment with the recipe and try adding fewer greens or more fruit until you get a flavor you enjoy.
Use what you like, then experiment with ingredients.
If you don’t enjoy eating a specific vegetable, you may not magically like it once it’s added to a smoothie. The sweetness from other ingredients can help, but it’s best to start with a small amount of greens you enjoy. Try a mild flavored green like spinach. Once you find a combination you like, then start experimenting. Kale, chard, or a small amount of mustard greens or parsley can all be delicious when you strike the right balance and don’t overdo it.
Get the right consistency.
Everyone has preferences when it comes to smoothies. Some want it completely pureed, and others don’t mind tiny pieces of greens or seeds from berries. Start with about 1 cup of greens and 1 cup of liquid. Leafy greens work best in smoothies because they are tender enough to puree. The liquid can be all milk (such as dairy, nut milk, or coconut milk), 100 percent juice, water, or a combination of the three. Begin by blending the liquid and greens together until the greens are pureed. You can then blend in bananas, pineapple, additional greens, herbs, or protein powders.
Try frozen ingredients instead of ice.
Ice can thicken and chill your smoothie, but it can also reduce the creaminess and leave it watery. Freeze fruits ahead of time. Frozen bananas, pineapple, or mango create a thick and creamy smoothie and eliminate the need for ice.
Add some protein.
Leafy greens and unsweetened fruits will provide vitamins, minerals, and fiber, but if you want your smoothie to be nutritionally balanced and keep you feeling full, add some protein. Milk, yogurt, nut flours, bean flours, seeds, and nut butters are all ways you can increase the protein of your green smoothie.
We all have days when we feel our willpower is not enough to resist food cravings. Don’t beat yourself up about it. Instead, make a plan for how you will handle these days. Small, but conscious changes in your daily habits will renew your strength and help you reduce the temptation to eat unhealthy foods.
Eat when you are hungry.
When you let yourself get too hungry, the need for food puts you at risk for making unhealthy choices. If you let hunger go too far, it’s easy to be tempted by the donuts in the office lounge or a bag of chips from the vending machine. If you feel hunger coming on, don’t deny yourself the opportunity to eat. Grab something healthy right away.
Don’t let hunger take you by surprise. Keep your pantry stocked with healthy snacks. Create a space at work for seeds, nuts, fresh fruits, yogurt, or fresh vegetables with hummus or bean dip. Pack individual servings of snacks at the start of every week and carry some with you at all times. When these foods are available, you’ll be less likely to grab an unhealthy option when hunger hits.
Allow for distractions.
A distraction can work wonders for reducing temptations. When you can’t seem to get your mind off an unhealthy food, change your focus. Make a phone call, deliver a message personally, or take a quick walk around the block. This allows you to revisit your goals and think twice about giving in to a temptation that will get you off track.
Move away from the serving table.
One of the best ways to resist temptation is to remove yourself from easy access to unhealthy foods. The worst place to be at a gathering is close to the food table. Mingling near the appetizers, snacks, and desserts can lead to mindless munching. Pick a seat or a place to stand that is across the room. You will enjoy the gathering just as much and will leave having eaten far fewer calories.
Purchase treats in single servings.
The old saying, “Out of sight, out of mind,” doesn’t always work. If you know there are cookies in the pantry or ice cream in the freezer, it’s often difficult to resist when you crave something sweet. Rid yourself of the temptation and keep these foods out of the house. When you want to enjoy a treat, buy just one, not a whole box. Get one cookie from the bakery, a snack bag of chips, or a single-serve ice cream. Once you’ve enjoyed your treat, there won’t be any leftovers to tempt you later.
From improving heart health and digestion to promoting fullness, fiber is well known for its health benefits. Dietary fiber is classified as soluble and insoluble, but as researchers continue to take a closer look at why fiber keeps us healthy, we are learning that there may be more to the role than its solubility.
The viscosity of fiber (thickness as it moves through the small and large intestines) and how a fiber ferments also play a role when carbohydrates are digested. Resistant starch is a low-viscous type of dietary fiber found in carbohydrate-rich foods. As the name suggests, it resists digestion in the small intestines and ferments in the large intestines. As it ferments, it promotes beneficial gut bacteria.
What are the benefits of resistant starch?
Some studies have shown that resistant starch may help weight loss because it can increase fullness that leads to reduced food intake. There is also evidence that resistant starch reduces insulin resistance and improves blood glucose control.
What foods contain resistant starch?
Resistant starch comes in several forms. Some cannot be digested, such as parts of grains, seeds, and legumes. Others resist digestion like the starch in legumes and under-ripe bananas. In other foods, the resistant starch forms after the food has been cooked and then cooled, such as in potatoes, rice, and pasta.
How much do I need to eat?
There is no current recommendation for intake of resistant starch, but research shows it may be a beneficial part of a balanced eating plan. Incorporate foods that contain resistant starch as you aim to get the recommended amount of 25 to 30 grams of total fiber per day. Legumes, like beans and peas, and healthier versions of potato salad and pasta salad provide easy ways to eat more.