Whole foods are unprocessed and unrefined (or minimally so), as one would find them in nature. They include the edible portions of plants and animals.
Examples of whole foods are legumes, unpolished grains, vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, pastured eggs, pastured dairy, pastured meat without additives and wild seafood.
Whole foods are foods humans have been eating for thousands of years, and are generally recognized as safe.
Plant-based whole foods are usually high in fiber. Fiber helps us feel full, and has no calories. It helps keep our gastro-intestinal tract healthy.
Plant-based whole foods are also generally nutrient-dense, high in vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients. These nutrients interact synergistically, like instruments in an orchestra, to produce a beneficial health effect greater than the sum of the food’s individual nutrients.
To quote Cynthia Lair, author, educator, speaker, actress, chef, and whole foods advocate, a helpful question to ask oneself to identify a whole food is “Can I imagine it growing?” She notes “it is easy to picture a wheat field or an apple on a tree. Tough to picture a field of marshmallows. I know of no streams where one can scoop up a bucket of diet soda, no trees where one can pick fruit loops.”
For animal products, one can ask “Did it eat something growing?” In other words, was it raised on the food it evolved eating, like grass?
Food fads may come and go, but whole foods have stood the test of time.