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The Whole Foods Diet

6 reasons to switch to a less processed way of eating.
By
WebMD Weight Loss Clinic-Feature
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

The more we learn about nutrition, the more it seems we should eat the way people did a hundred years ago. Recent research appears to be pointing us in the direction of eating mostly "whole foods" – that is, foods that are as close to their natural form as possible.

This could mean eating:

  • Whole grains instead of refined grains whenever possible.
  • Fruits, vegetables, and beans instead of supplements to provide the fiber and vitamins they contain.
  • A skinless chicken breast cooked with healthful ingredients instead of chicken nuggets processed with added fats, flavorings, and preservatives.
  • A baked potato with chopped green onions and light sour cream instead of a bag of sour cream and onion potato chips.
  • Fresh berries with breakfast instead of raspberry toaster pastries or breakfast bars.
  • A blueberry smoothie made with blueberries, yogurt, and a frozen banana instead of a blue-colored slushy or icee.

Many health experts believe that eating more whole foods is our best bet for improving health and preventing disease. Whole foods – like vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts, and legumes -- retain their fiber as well as the whole portfolio of beneficial phytochemicals and nutrients that are often removed in processed foods.

The idea of whole foods is catching on the popular imagination as well. Consider the now ubiquitous Whole Foods Market grocery chain, which started in 1980 as one store in Austin, Texas. Its mission was simple: "to provide a more natural alternative to what the food supply was typically offering at the time."

Whole Foods is now the world's leading retailer of natural and organic foods, with 184 stores in North America and the United Kingdom. Their 2005 revenue was $4.7 billion, and they have 78 new stores in the development pipeline between now and 2009.

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