When it comes to healthy or clean eating, one is bound to hear the terms ‘whole foods’ and ‘organic foods‘. What makes them special and important in the eyes of health buffs, is that these foods are highly beneficial to the body, packed with nutrients. However, the two terms can get confusing.
Through this post, we try to distinguish between whole foods and organic foods, explaining how they can aid your health.
What Are Whole Foods?
Foods that are closest to their natural state are whole, and real. They aren’t processed or refined in any way. Nor do they have any chemicals or additives such as coloring or preservatives. Foods like fresh fruit, vegetables, nuts, beans, seeds, milk, unpolished rice, eggs and certain poultry, meat and fish in their original state are considered whole foods. So a steak or roast beef is whole food, but lunch meat and hot dogs are not, since they have been processed with additives and modified from their natural state. Oils and juices would not be considered a part of this category, because they are refined extracts from whole foods.
Why Are Whole Foods Good For You?
- According to LA-based health and wellness expert Sophie Jaffe, when foods are processed, their nutritional components including vitamins, minerals, fiber, and water, are often lost. In that sense, whole foods are healthier.
- Preservatives, sugar and salt additives, artificial coloring and flavoring are then added to enhance the food’s taste, appearance, and shelf-life, but these can negatively impact the body and can lead to an increased risk of disease, obesity, and high blood pressure.
- Our bodies are better suited to metabolizing the sugar and sodium naturally present in whole foods, which ultimately hold more nutrients too.
- As these foods aren’t processed or refined, they contain more vitamins and minerals that would have otherwise been diminished during processing or refining.
What Is Organic Food?
Organic foods in general, are foods that have been grown without the use of chemicals, fertilizers, pesticides, hormones or genetic modification. However, this definition is not quite constant in the US and several other countries, as there is a certain standard for production, which may allow a meager amount of chemicals that certifies as organic too. Nevertheless, in comparison to regular produce, these foods are a lot more natural, and safe to consume.
Why Is Organic Food Good For You?
- Organic foods are deemed better for your health since they have been found to have higher levels of nutrients than non-organic versions, and are also free of potentially dangerous pesticides, fertilizers, and chemicals that have been linked to medical issues like cancer, respiratory problems, and reproductive disorders.
- Whether its fruits, vegetables, poultry or meat, be assured that these foods contain at least 70 percent organic ingredients. Fruits and veggies cannot be force-ripened either, so the food you eat is natural.
- In addition, organic foods benefit the environment. In the case of non-organic farms, all the pesticides and fertilizer run-off sometimes end up in lakes and rivers, which can damage the ecosystems and contaminate water supplies.
Whole Food vs Organic Food
- According to Health Coach and Wellness Advocate AnnaLaura Brown, whole foods and organic foods can be the same thing—but not always. For a food to be organic, it must be a whole food, but a whole food does not have to be organic. Take an apple, for instance—there are organic apples and non-organic apples—however, apples are considered as whole food, regardless.
- Lori Kenyon Farley, a certified nutrition consultant, narrows it down, saying that organic refers to the farming methods used to grow produce. Organic practices are better for the land and result in more nutritious produce, with less harmful chemical treatment.
- However, processed foods can also be labeled organic, as long as no more than 5% of the ingredients by weight are non-organic. That means, an organic apple can be processed with other organic ingredients to make a breakfast bar, but since it is now processed, it’s no longer a whole food.
If you ask us, organic whole foods are the way to go! However, both food groups can benefit you, as long as you choose wisely.