What Are Whole Foods? The Importance of an All-Natural, Unprocessed Diet

A person eating whole foods at a party.

When it comes to optimal health and nutrition, whole foods are where it's at. But what exactly are whole foods? Simply put, they are foods that are unprocessed and unrefined, or processed as little as possible, before being consumed.

Whole foods come from plants or animals and contain only their original form with minimal added ingredients. Examples include vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, eggs, meat, poultry, fish, grains and legumes.

In contrast, processed foods are manufactured products that have been altered from their original, whole state through processing techniques like canning, frying, baking or addition of artificial preservatives, sweeteners, colors and flavors.

Why Are Whole Foods Better?

Whole, unprocessed foods boast numerous health benefits compared to their highly processed counterparts:

They Pack More Nutrients

One of the most significant advantages of whole foods is their nutrient density. Whole foods are packed with a wide array of beneficial nutrients, including essential vitamins, minerals, healthy fats, lean proteins, antioxidants, and fiber. These nutrients work synergistically to support various bodily functions, promote overall health, and reduce the risk of chronic diseases. In contrast, highly processed foods often lose a substantial portion of these valuable nutrients during the manufacturing process, leaving them nutritionally inferior.

They Provide Greater Satisfaction

Processed foods are often laden with potentially harmful artificial additives, preservatives, excess salt, added sugars, and unhealthy trans fats. These ingredients are used to extend shelf life, enhance flavor, and improve texture, but they can have detrimental effects on overall health when consumed in excess. 

Whole foods, on the other hand, are free from these artificial components, providing a cleaner and more natural approach to nutrition. By opting for whole foods, you can minimize your exposure to these potentially harmful substances and support your body's natural detoxification processes.

They Promote Better Digestion

Whole foods, particularly those rich in fiber, play a crucial role in promoting better digestion and maintaining a healthy gut microbiome. Fiber aids in the smooth passage of food through the digestive tract, prevents constipation, and supports the growth of beneficial gut bacteria. These bacteria, in turn, contribute to a robust immune system, improved nutrient absorption, and overall digestive health. Processed foods, which often lack adequate fiber, can disrupt the delicate balance of the gut microbiome and lead to digestive issues.

They Contain Fewer Additives

Unlike processed foods, whole foods aren't loaded with potentially harmful artificial additives, preservatives, salt, sugar and trans fats. 

They Support Sustainable Eating Habits

Incorporating more whole foods into your diet can also support sustainable eating habits and contribute to a healthier planet. Whole foods often require less packaging and processing, reducing the environmental impact associated with their production and distribution. Additionally, by supporting local farmers and opting for whole foods that are in season, you can further reduce your carbon footprint and promote a more sustainable food system.

A parent and child wondering: What are whole foods?

5 Tips for Eating More Whole Foods

Adopting a whole foods diet is one of the best ways to optimize your health, energy levels and weight. Try these tips to get started:

  1. Scan Labels: When grocery shopping, read ingredient lists and aim for options with only a handful of whole food ingredients you recognize.
  2. Eat More Plants: Fill half your plate with vegetables and fruits at meals to increase your nutrient and fiber intake.
  3. Batch Cook: Spend some time each week batch-cooking staples like roasted veggies, quinoa, lentils, chicken and hard-boiled eggs for easy whole food meals and snacks.
  4. Try New Recipes: Explore new whole food recipes to diversify your intake of different plant and protein sources. Variety is key!
  5. Pack Snacks: Always have portable whole food snacks on hand like fresh fruit, nuts, hard boiled eggs or homemade trail mix to avoid processed convenience foods.

Examples of Accessible Whole Food

When it comes to optimizing your health through nutrition, prioritizing minimally processed, nutrient-dense whole foods is key. Some of the most nourishing options to include in your diet are:

  • A vibrant array of colorful fruits and vegetables
  • Omega-3 rich fatty fish like wild-caught salmon
  • Protein-packed eggs from free-range hens
  • Fiber-filled beans, lentils and peas
  • Heart-healthy nuts and seeds
  • Nutritious ancient grains like quinoa
  • Probiotic-rich plain yogurt and cheeses
  • Humanely-raised, antibiotic-free poultry and meat

Making small, sustainable swaps in your diet to incorporate more of these wholesome, unprocessed foods can add up to big health benefits over time. Start by gradually replacing processed snacks and ingredients with nourishing whole food alternatives. Before you know it, clean eating will become a natural part of your lifestyle!

swiig Makes Whole Food Wellness Simple

At swiig, we make it easy and delicious to fuel your body with the good stuff. Our nutritionist-developed products are crafted from premium whole food ingredients you can feel great about. From protein-packed snacks to superfood supplements, we have just what you need to support your wellness journey.

Ready to experience the swiig difference? Visit our website to stock up on clean, convenient nutrition that will help you look and feel your best. When you nourish yourself with quality foods, a healthier, energized version of you awaits!


Everyday Health - Whole-Foods Diet 101: A Complete Beginner’s Guide

Harvard Health - The best ways to identify processed foods

Mayo Clinic - Choosing Whole Foods for a Healthier You

Healthline - Healthy Food vs. Highly Processed Food: What to Know

Martha Stewart - The Health Benefits of a Whole Foods Diet

Leave a comment

Please note, comments need to be approved before they are published.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.


    Nutrition (per serving)