Whole foods are foods that are unprocessed and unrefined, or processed and refined as little as
possible before being consumed. Whole foods typically do not contain added ingredients, such as sugar,
salt, or fat. Examples of whole foods include unpolished grains; fruits and vegetables; unprocessed
meat, poultry, and fish; and non-homogenized milk.
The term is often confused with organic food, but whole foods are not necessarily organic, nor are
organic foods necessarily whole. Because of the lack of basic processing, some whole foods have a very
short shelf life.
The United States Food and Drug Administration defines whole grains as cereal grains containing the
bran, endosperm and germ of the original grain. Federal Dietary Guidelines issued by the Center for
Nutrition Policy and Promotion in 2005 recommended the consumption of at least three servings of
whole grains each day, as they are proven to help cut risk of cancer and heart disease.
There are several ways to meet the body's needs with respect to whole foods. One way is to consume a
variety of fresh raw fruits and vegetables every day.
"Diets rich in whole and unrefined foods, like whole grains, dark green and yellow/orange-fleshed
vegetables and fruits, legumes, nuts and seeds, contain high concentrations of antioxidant phenolics,
fibers and numerous other phytochemicals that may be protective against chronic diseases."