Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Whole Foods

I have recently become more aware of the increasing number of ingredients I have been seeing on food labels. Sometimes I am baffled at how many ingredients show up in simple foods. In a week moment I recently bought some instant Alfredo noodles that are made by Nissin which is the same company that makes ramen noodles. It included 3 flavor packs and one was referred to as "liquid seasoning". This peaked my curiosity so I read the ingredients and there were close to 60 and I didn't recognize many of them.

In order to understand some labels it helps to have a PHD in chemistry so you can pronounce some of the ingredients. Many of these are added to improve color, taste, texture, and to help preserve the food. I understand why they are added, but it makes me wonder how healthy these foods really are.

Many foods we eat have been so processed and refined that we miss out on some of the food benefits they offer in their natural state like fiber and antioxidants. White bread made with refined flour has little nutrition value so it is usually fortified to compensate. Whole foods have many benefits, but when you peel the apple or refine the wheat you begin to lose some of the benefits of that food.

I have heard a couple simple rules that I think could be helpful suggestions when trying to make healthy food choices. If a food has more than 15 ingredients then be careful and if it didn't exist 1,000 years ago you may want to avoid it. This would eliminate foods like like Cheetos, Cheese whiz, Gogurt, Captain Crunch, etc.

I am not an extremist. I am not even really into organic food. I try to eat healthy but I occasionally enjoy food that I know has little nutritional value. I think everyone would benefit by eating more whole foods in their natural state as opposed to something that is orange flavored and colored but has none of the benefits of an actual orange. When faced with a choice of highly processed foods or food in it's natural state, go with the whole foods.


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