I believe in following an eating plan made of "whole foods". Just what are whole foods?
Whole foods are those that are unprocessed and unrefined, or processed and refined as little as possible before being consumed. They typically do not contain added sugar, salt, fat, or chemicals.
Often confused with "organic food" (i.e., organically-grown food), whole foods are not necessarily organic, nor are organic foods necessarily whole, although they do share a number of traits, such as an avoidance of chemically-assisted agricultural techniques. Because of the lack of basic processing, many whole foods have a very short shelf life and are not easily sold outside of farmers' markets.
Nothing processed, so put down that Fiber One. It ain't good for you. Throw away that whole wheat bread. Give up those specialty low carb products. The human body is not meant to consume that garbage.
Animal products are 'whole foods,' too
The nutritional buzz phrase is 'whole foods.' This is encouraging. I've been watching the nutrition scene long enough to remember when people who insisted that whole-grain bread was more nutritious than enriched bread were scorned as 'food faddists.'
But the admonitions to eat whole foods seem to apply only to grains, fruits and vegetables. Officialdom still recommends discarding large fractions of animal foods. Yet few see these fractionated animal foods as the refined, depleted foods they are.
Take dairy. Virtually all recommendations for dairy products include the qualifiers 'low-fat' or 'fat-free.' But that's not the way it comes out of the cow. Yes, whole milk has more calories than skim. It also has far more vitamin A, because it's carried in the butterfat. (Some skim milk is fortified with vitamin A —- the equivalent of adding a few vitamins back to nutritionally depleted white flour.) Because fat aids in calcium absorption, you'll get more calcium from whole milk. Whole milk from grass-fed cows supplies CLA, a fat that increases fat-burning and reduces heart disease and cancer risk, and omega-3 fats, which reduce inflammation, and heart disease and cancer risk. It is worth paying premium prices for such milk.
And eggs. Oh, poor eggs. There they are, just about the most perfect food in the world, and what do people do? They throw away the yolks. The part with almost all the vitamins, including A, E, K and the hard-to-come-by D, not to mention brain-enhancing choline and DHA. Eggs from pastured chickens also have yolks rich in omega-3. Better to throw away the whites, not that I'd recommend that, either. Just eat whole eggs, will you?
Then there's chicken. When did 'chicken' become synonymous with 'boneless, skinless chicken breast?' (hello my WLS pals) Chicken breast is a good food, but the whole chicken is better. Dark and white meats both have nutritional strengths. They are not identical in vitamin and mineral content. Chicken skin is a good source of vitamin A, again because it's fatty. I wrote recently about liver's nutritional bonanza, and hearts are nutrient-rich as well, making giblet gravy a great idea. Simmering the leftover chicken bones yields flavorsome broth rich in highly absorbable calcium and joint-building gelatin. (I save my steak bones, too, for beef broth.)
Our ancestors, ever mindful of where their next meal was coming from, relished every edible part of every animal they killed. Indeed, paleoanthropologists assert that hunter-gatherers ate the rich, fatty organ meats first, preferring them to muscle meats, and smashed bones to eat the marrow. As recently as a century ago, marrow was such a popular food that special spoons were made for scooping it out of bones. I love the stuff. I've been sucking the marrow out of lamb-chop bones since I was a tyke. A 1997 article in the journal Nature asserts that human brain capacity decreased at the dawn of agriculture 10,000 years ago, very likely because of a reduction in animal-fat consumption. Whole animal foods are part of our nutritional heritage.
My low-carbohydrate eating habits are often referred to as a 'fad.' Whatever. If it was good enough for my hunter-gatherer ancestors, it's good enough for me. Do you want to know what's really a fad? Removing the fat from milk and the yolks from eggs, and discarding three- quarters of the chicken, all organ meats and most bones. There's not a culture in the world where our narrow, refined, low-fat, flavorless versions of animal foods are part of the traditional diet.
I just love Dana. She has some really good cookbooks available too. Check then out.