- They are whole foods (in contrast to adulterated or refined) foods. They are real foods complete with all their natural endowment of nutrients, and they have not been highly processed.
- They are the “Richest Sources of the Essential Nutrients” in their natural state, and not from artificial or synthetic sources.
- They are “Nutrient Dense,” which means they contain the highest amounts of essential nutrients in proportion to the least calories and fat.
- They are foods that “Contain No Synthetic, Artificial or Irradiated Ingredients”.
- Whenever possible, they are “Organically Grown” to promote not only your health, but also the health of our planet.
Phytonutrients are the biologically active substances in plants that are responsible for giving them color, flavor, and natural disease resistance. Processed foods have many, if not all of the phytonutrients removed and, when they do contain nutrients that have been added back, generally contain only a few select vitamins and minerals: A far cry from the original food.
For example, whole, unrefined grains, such as wheat, contain three main parts: the germ, or sprouting part of the grain; the endosperm, which contains the starch (calories) to support the young sprout during its early stages; and the bran, which is the protective layer encasing the sprout and its endosperm. In a whole grain food, like whole-grain bread, all three parts of the grain are present; in a refined food, like white bread, the germ and bran are removed, and only the starchy endosperm is used.
Each of the parts of the grain has different purposes, and therefore a different complement of nutrient. The germ is rich in micronutrients to support the young sprout and contains high levels of vitamin E and the majority of the B-vitamins, among other nutrients. The protective bran contains a host of micronutrients to protect the young sprout from damage by the environment, and these same molecules protect your cells, which is one reason the bran is so good for you. The bran also contains over 60 percent of the mineral in grains, and is high in fiber. The endosperm, the part that is used exclusively in white bread contains some vitamins and minerals, but is primarily starch. It’s easy to see how whole grains provide the spectrum of nutrients to promote optimal health, whereas processed grains provide mainly calories.
Whole foods contain thousands of phytonutrients that have health-promoting properties, as well as vitamins, minerals, and macronutrients like fiber and beneficial fats. During processing, many of these compounds are removed. In particular, the essential omega-3 fatty acids, along with other unsaturated fats, are the first to be removed, in part, because they are often located in highest amounts in the outer surfaces of whole foods, and in part, because they are less shelf-stable in a processed food. They maintain their stability much better in the whole food where they are in their natural place. As an example, think about a fresh piece of tuna. When you cook fresh tuna along with it’s skin, you get the tuna meat with all the omega-3 fatty acids that are so necessary to support your cells’ membranes and promote health.
Now, compare that to canned tuna fish packed in vegetable oil. Not only are about 50% of the omega-3 fats missing, the taste itself has been compromised. StarKist (owned by SJ Heinz), currently claims 1.46 grams of total omega-3s per 6.5 ounce can of albacore tuna, (and this number doesn’t change much in the water-packed versus oil-packed version.) This number is about half of the level that most sources report for fresh baked albacore. For the best flavor and nutrition, the superior choice is fresh tuna. Next best choice is water-packed albacore, followed by oil-packed tuna.
When you eat whole grains, you get a high level of minerals, a range of vitamins including all of the energy-supporting B-vitamins, and the essential fats. When processed, a whole grain loses its bran, which contains most of its fiber, minerals, and B-vitamins; and its germ, which contains its essential fats and the family of protective vitamin E compounds called the tocopherols. From refined grains, you get a large amount of simple carbohydrates and starch, a bit of protein, and only a few vitamins from a food that started out with thousands of healthy compounds and a full spectrum of vitamins.
Healing foods are nourishment created by Nature – nothing more added, and nothing taken away. The key to maximizing the many nutritional benefits offered Healing Foods is to enjoy them as part of an overall healthy way of eating.
If you choose to rely on the Healing foods for the majority of your meals, you will automatically be:
- Eating fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, nuts and seeds, lean meat, fish, and olive oil as the main components of your diet. Without effort, you will be consuming a rich variety of nutrients, including all the essential nutrients that will promote your optimal health and energy.
- Using monounsaturated fats like pure extra virgin olive oil that do not increase your risk for cardiovacular disease, rather than hydrogenated fats (also called trans-fatty acids or trans-fats).
- Using foods rich in heart-healthy, anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon, tuna, walnuts, and flax seeds.
- Substituting non-fat or low-fat dairy products as alternatives to whole milk products. You’ll be getting the same vital nutrients as those in whole milk, but with far fewer calories and much less saturated fat. Or better yet, substituting non dairy alternatives such as almond milk. Dairy can be one of our biggest allergens, causing excess mucus and inflammation in the body.
- Using only lean meats and getting more protein with less saturated fat.
- Avoiding white sugar, “white” (wheat rather than whole wheat) flour, white pasta and white (refined) rice. By avoiding these highly refined foods, which have had the majority of their key nutrients removed and remain good sources only of simple sugars and refined carbohydrates, you will lower your risk of high blood pressure, elevated cholesterol, obesity, Type II diabetes, and cancer.
Try new herbs and spices when you cook.
Herbs themselves carry many health and healing benefits.
- Basil is a great anti-inflammatory and promotes cardiovascular health. (it is best to add basil at the end of the cooking process to retain maximum health benefits)
- Black pepper promotes digestion and intestinal health.
- Cayenne pepper is an anti-inflammatory, natural pain relief, cardiovascular benefits including lowering cholesterol and reducing the risk of forming blood clots. It also clears congestion, boosts immunity, even can help you loose weight.
- Cinnamon controls blood sugar, anti-clotting actions, anti-microbial action, and boosts brain functioning.
- Ginger gives gastrointestinal relief, safe and effective for nausea and vomiting, anti-inflammatory, anti-tumor effects in ovarian cancer cells (study done at the American Association for Cancer), & immune boosting action.
- Oregano is an anti-bacterial & anti-oxidant.
- Rosemary stimulates the immune system, increases circulation, and improves digestion. Rosemary also contains anti-inflammatory compounds that may make it useful for reducing the severity of asthma attacks. In addition, rosemary has been shown to increase the blood flow to the head and brain, improving concentration.
- Sage is an anti-oxidant/anti-inflammatory & better brain functioning.
- Thyme is an anti-microbial and anti-oxidant.
- Tumeric is an anti-inflammatory, works on inflammatory bowel disease, relief for rheumatoid arthritis, help for cystic fibrosis sufferers, cancer prevention, prevent colon cancer, prostate cancer, leukemia, improved liver function, cardiovascular protection, prevention against Alzheimer’s Disease and even more studies are being done on its benefits