What are whole foods and real foods?

As you evaluate the best choices for your health, you're likely discovering a variety of tips and suggestions. Many focus on consuming more whole foods or real foods, but isn't food just food? Although our food sources all start from the same place -- a lovely farm, waterway, or garden -- by the time they reach our dinner tables, they can go through lots of changes. Here's what you need to know about the food you eat each day so you can feel your best, naturally.

What are whole foods and real foods?

These are foods that you might see sold at a farmer's market or around the perimeter of the grocery store that is literally from farm to plate. Whole and real foods include fresh produce (apples, peas, spinach, bananas, etc.) lean proteins (meats, legumes, fish, nuts, etc.), whole grains (rice, quinoa, corn, etc.), and of course -- a2 Milk®

Whole and real foods are handled just enough to harvest them, prepare them for packaging and make them available for your purchase. Sometimes they are referred to as minimally processed or fresh foods. For example, if you took a picture of an apple growing on a tree at an apple orchard, it would look just about the same in the photo as it does in the store a few days later when it's ready for you to purchase.

Whole, real, fresh, minimally processed foods are nutrient-dense and the best options for our breakfasts, snacks, lunches, and dinners. The Harvard Medical School shares its top 10 superfoods list, and every single item on the list is a whole, real food! They are berries, fish, leafy greens, nuts, olive oil, whole grains, yogurt, cruciferous vegetables, legumes, and tomatoes.

What are processed foods?

This category of food generally doesn't look like it did on the farm or in the garden and comes in a bag, box or tin. The Mayo Clinic defines processed foods as those that have been altered from their natural state (by cooking, cutting, dehydrating, etc.) and may include the addition of other ingredients like preservatives, flavorings, sugars, salts, and fats to make them shelf-stable or enhance the flavor. 

We know french fries start out as potatoes. But, when we look at the ingredient list on a package of frozen french fries, we might be surprised to see multiple ingredients listed in addition to potatoes. French fries would be considered a highly processed food thanks to the peeling, cutting, cooking, mashing, and adding of extra ingredients before being formed into various shapes, packaged and frozen. 

With that said, all foods that aren't grown and collected by you have been minimally processed by washing, packaging, or even roasted, blanched, or frozen to make them shelf-stable at the store. For example, a2 Milk® is ultra-pasteurized which is a method of heating milk for a short time to kill bacteria which would cause the milk to spoil and gives the milk longer shelf life.

What type of foods should I consume?

When possible, focus on whole, real foods and those that are minimally processed. Reach for a banana, not banana-flavored taffy candy. Pair a baked potato with dinner instead of highly processed potato chips. Sip a Snickerdoodle latte for a treat instead of reaching for a cookie.

Choosing real, whole foods will help you feel your best each day thanks to the abundant, natural nutrition that comes straight from nature. And, you'll keep reaching for more thanks to the delicious, fresh flavors.

As you work on your meal planning for the week ahead, be sure to add a2 Milk® to the grocery list. You can use this protein and vitamin-packed whole food for daily drinking and in recipes. With each serving, you're enriching your body with 13 essential nutrients including calcium, B vitamins, potassium, zinc and so much more! Here's to your health!

The a2 Milk® difference

Our a2 Milk® comes from cows that naturally produce only the natural A2 protein. a2 Milk® is 100% real milk that’s easier on digestion and may help some avoid discomfort.

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