Whole foods are unprocessed or minimally processed foods. This means that they have not been through a large amount of manufacturing processes which may have affected their nutritional value. It can however be beneficial for foods to be minimally altered by removal of inedible parts, drying, crushing, roasting, boiling, freezing, or pasteurisation, to make them suitable to store and safe to eat. Although on the whole an easy way to think of it is, the less processed a food is the closer to its natural state it is, and the more vitamins, minerals and fibre it is likely to provide. Whole foods are foods such as fresh fruit, unsalted nuts, oats, fresh vegetables and raw meats etc.
Processed foods, best described as ultra-processed foods (UPFs) for the purpose of this article, are foods that have been through rigorous processing, often losing a lot of nutritive value along the way. They most likely have many added ingredients such as sugar, salt, fat, and artificial colors or preservatives. UPFs are foods such as frozen meals, hot dogs, cakes, pastries, cereals etc.
Wholefoods are therefore hailed as healthier foods than UPFs because they are higher in nutrients AND displace UPFs from the diet. Interestingly, they also seem to help you to naturally regulate your appetite. People who eat mostly whole food diets seem to naturally eat less food (without trying!) and are generally leaner than their UPF eating counterparts. Why is this?
Whole foods are unprocessed or minimally processed foods close to their natural state. Processed foods have gone through rigorous processes often detracting from their nutritional value and adding less healthy ingredients. Wholefoods seem to also be able to help with appetite regulation.