If you read a lot of websites about nutrition and health, you have probably already seen a lot of articles advising you not to eat processed foods – especially processed meat and packaged frozen meals. However, while we know that most nutritionists do advise us to avoid foods that have been processed and to instead look to whole foods for the majority of our diet, just exactly what are the benefits to doing this?
Most people find that once they make the switch to eating a largely whole food diet, they never want to go back. If you are thinking of making the change yourself, then here are three of the benefits you can look forward to:
Maintain Healthier Sodium Levels
One of the first reasons to cut down on processed foods or even cut them all together is to maintain healthy levels of salt in your body. Even though salt is essential in keeping normal metabolic functions working, processed foods often contain more sodium than you actually need. Too much of this can lead to short-term problems such as water retention and bloating but has also been linked to things like heart disease – which is obviously a lot more serious. By getting your salt intake from natural sources rather than additives in processed foods, you will be able to maintain a healthier salt level.
Giving up processed foods is also recommended for people who would like to lose weight or who need to lose weight for health reasons. This is because processed foods tend to contain a lot of empty calories – that is, calories from fat and sugar that are added artificially for taste reasons rather than because they are naturally present in the food. A lot of processed foods also contain fillers based on carbohydrates, which are not rich in nutrients compared with other sources of energy. Your calorie intake is likely to be lower even while eating similar sized portions and you will feel less hungry once you switch to whole foods.
Gain More Important Nutrients
When you eat processed foods, even if they do contain healthy things like fruits and vegetables, a lot of nutrients can be lost in the preparation of the finished product This is why a lot of people advocate eating foods in their raw state where possible. When you follow a raw food diet that is largely plant-based, for instance, using things like nuts and seeds as your source of protein, along with beans and pulses, you can get all of the macronutrients you need, and also the vitamins and minerals, which may go to waste when the natural foods are used in processed products.
It may sound difficult at first to switch from convenience foods and junk foods to things that you have to prepare for yourself or simply eating fruit and vegetables or nuts in their raw state. However, there are plenty of great recipes out there on sites like Raw Magazine, and you can also make simple snack packs of fruit, nuts, and crudites, and even prepare juices and smoothies. It can be worth this experimentation period to get used to eating whole foods and start enjoying all of the benefits listed here.