Supermarkets are filled with never-ending aisles of tempting food packaged in colorful boxes, printed with compelling slogans designed to make you buy. Many of the packages tout healthy ingredients: Whole grain! No high fructose corn syrup! Low carb!

However, the absence of excessive carbohydrates or high fructose corn syrup does not make a food nutritious. Even packaged foods that appear healthy frequently have high amounts of sugar or sodium while lacking vital micronutrients more easily found in fruits and vegetables.

Don’t be fooled by marketing claims on packaged goods. The healthiest foods are whole foods. 

Packaged food might seem like a good idea on a busy night with barely any time to cook dinner, but it doesn’t give your body all of the nutrients it needs to thrive. Processing food removes many vital nutrients, a study published in Trends in Food Science and Technology found. That’s why experts urge consumers to shop from the produce aisle.

Whole foods, including fruits and vegetables are nutrient-dense, while processed foods tend to be calorie-dense, leading the American Cancer Society to advocate for a diet full of unprocessed foods. Increased fruit and vegetable consumption also reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease, according to a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Fresh fruits and vegetables are loaded with healthy antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and other micronutrients that feed your cells and keep them vibrant. These foods carry no ingredient labels because what you see is what you get.

Modern times have brought us packaged foods to help cope with increasing demands on our time. And even though cooking with whole foods may take a little more time and energy than opening a frozen stir-fry, the nutritional health benefits are enormous.

For optimal health, consume a varied diet rich in whole grains, fruits, and vegetables–not packaged food.

Here are a few expert tips to ensure your food provides you with optimal nutrition:

  • Eat a breakfast of whole grains that includes calcium and vitamins D and C
  • Try pre-washed salad mixes and vegetables to reduce meal-preparation time
  • Look to fruits to satisfy cravings for sweets
  • Eat fish at least twice a week 

Do you incorporate whole foods into your diet? 

Image by Michigan Municipal League via Flickr


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