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6 Benefits of Eating Foods Whole

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Whole foods are nuts, fruit, vegetables, grains and meat that haven't been processed into other products. For example, an avocado is a whole food while guacamole is not. They typically consist of one ingredient and look similar to how they would occur in nature. Both of these forms of food can be part of a healthy diet, but there are a few distinct benefits that whole foods carry over their processed counterparts.

1. Processed foods often have lower nutritional value 
When whole foods are processed into new products they frequently lose a significant portion of the vitamins and minerals, as heat and processing can destroy these nutrients. New York City's Department of Health pointed to the difference between an apple and apple sauce. Although apple sauce may be healthier than most junk food, a raw apple intact with skin will have more vitamins and nutrients.

2. Whole foods don't have additives 
Many processed foods are unhealthy, largely because of their additives. Sugar and sodium are added to many products, from soft drinks to cereal, to improve taste. But if you opt for whole oats, rather than a store-bought granola bar, you'll get the vitamin B, manganese, zinc and protein without the added sugar and empty calories. 

3. You'll get more fiber 
Whole foods usually have more natural dietary fiber than processed foods, the Mayo Clinic explained. When a vegetable is processed, for example, often the fiber that you'd get from eating it raw at home or throwing it in your fitness blender for a smoothie is lost. 

4. They've been keeping humans alive for thousands of years 
People's diets vary widely throughout time and across the world, but the one constant to healthy eating has been whole foods, Forbes magazine explained. Whole nuts, beans, grass-fed meat and fruit all have contributed to longevity and health throughout history - it's one of the reasons we still eat them. 

5. Whole foods are rich in phytonutrients 
Phytonutrients give vegetables and fruits their distinctive scents and colors, as well as their immune-boosting capabilities. The Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women's Cancer Center explained that the best way to get phytonutrients, which may help reduce cancer, is to eat a wide array of whole foods, such as cherries, flax seeds, beans, okra, tomatoes and beets. 

6. You can get the right kind of fats 
If you're trying to be healthy and fit, "fat" can be a scary word, but most of the unhealthy fats in modern American diets come from processed foods. Potato chips, fast food and many other products are filled with saturated and trans fats that contribute to high cholesterol, diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Some healthy whole foods are rich with good fats. Whole or cut fish, seeds, nuts and avocado are good sources of healthy fats like monsaturated and omega-3.