Foods in their natural state are comprehensively. Modify its nature causes them to lose valuable nutrients and compounds with significant health benefits.
What are whole foods?
When we talk about whole foods we refer especially to cereal, but can also be integrated cane sugar unrefined, for example. They are foods that are consumed directly (or almost) as the earth gives us, without going through processes that modify their structure.
Whole foods are whole foods, with all its fiber, protein, vitamins, minerals and trace elements. For example, a whole grain consists of three distinct parts:
- The exterior shell rich in fiber.
- The germ, with B vitamins and minerals like iron, zinc and selenium.
- The endosperm, which consists primarily of complex carbohydrates.
Benefits of whole foods
The first thing that comes to mind when thinking of whole foods is fiber. The fiber is a complex carbohydrate that cannot be digested by the body. Still, it has very important functions. We can distinguish two types of fiber in foods:
- Soluble fiber: This type of fiber captures plenty of water, increasing in size, and produces a gel in our digestive system that slows the intestinal transit. This gives more time for our body to absorb nutrients and reduce insulin spikes in blood glucose release dosing. This fiber is present in legumes, some grains (oats and barley), root vegetables, some vegetables (like beets and carrots) and many fruits.
- Insoluble fiber: Insoluble fiber passes through the intestines without undergoing modifications, and fermented in the colon by the intestinal flora. This type of fiber can help intestinal motility augmentar in case of constipation. Found in wheat bran, vegetables and whole grains.
The advantages of the fiber to the body respond to the fact that it is a non-digestible food. Through various mechanisms it has been shown to influence cholesterol levels, blood glucose and insulin, increasing the volume of stool and promote normal evacuation, among other benefits.
The current recommendation fiber is 25-35 g per day, counting the whole grains but also legumes, fruits and vegetables. If until now were taking too much fiber and want to change, I recommend that it be progressive and ingest plenty of water, otherwise as your body adapts, you could suffer from bloating and swelling tummy.
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Another great benefit of whole foods versus refined, is that they are much richer in nutrients (up to 800% more!). As we have seen before, the germ of cereals is rich in vitamins and minerals but the whole grain also contains essential fatty acids and phytochemicals such as phytoestrogens and lignans, which can provide protection against various cancers (including breast cancer, uterus, and prostate), and other phytochemicals such as saponins, phenolic compounds, sterols and other sulfur-containing compounds, which may provide additional benefits.
Drawbacks of whole foods
Basically we have two disadvantages and both are associated with the insoluble fiber: consumed in excess (and I stress too much), can produce a lot of gas and bloating, and contain anti-nutrients (phytates) capable of interfering with the absorption of minerals such as zinc, magnesium, iron or calcium.