What is Unprocessed Food?
Unprocessed foods are basically the same as natural foods. The basic rule is: The more a food resembles its natural form, the more unprocessed it is. For example, think of an apple that you just picked from the tree versus an apple cake. Or a freshly caught fish versus a fried squid. The closer to nature the better.
The basic rule is simple and is always good to come back to. But not all operations are very bad. Fruits and vegetables are sometimes preserved for preservation. Nuts are dried and roasted, so they contain less of the bad phytic acid. And an egg that you have baked yourself, you have also slightly processed. However, these operations are quite natural and only serve to better preserve food or even to better absorb the nutrients in the body. So it can sometimes be better to process food!
But when too much sugar, salt or preservatives are added, this is at the expense of health. In this case, it is better to avoid these foods.
The worst part is of course food that has been very processed and where the natural ingredients can no longer be recognized. Just think of: sweets and cookies, frozen pizza, burgers and croquettes. This is no longer food. It is better to avoid these products. If you want to eat something like this, it is better to see it as an unhealthy treat, but not as nutrition for your body.
Eating more unprocessed food: tips & tricks
Eating whole foods is one of the most important things to a healthy diet. Unfortunately, that is no longer self-evident in this society. People used to have no choice. The primeval man only ate what he could find in nature: fresh fruit and vegetables, nuts and seeds, and if he was lucky a freshly caught fish. Processing methods to preserve or better digest food contributed to the success of our species. Just think of baking meat and cooking vegetables. But the unlimited editing methods that are now widely adopted are more likely to contribute to our downfall. Food processing has more to do with economic importance and much less often with health. Why is whole food so much healthier? And how can we cook more raw?
Why are whole foods healthy?
More satiating and fewer calories:
Unprocessed food contains, on average, fewer calories than processed food. Vegetables, fruit, fish or meat contain exactly the macronutrients that our body needs. Of course, there is also a lot of natural food that contains a lot of calories, such as oily fish or nuts. But nature always ensures that this food is properly saturated so that you do not eat too much of it. This in contrast to chips, chocolate or cookies. Once you take one of those you can’t stop.
More vitamins and minerals
Unprocessed food contains the greatest amount of vitamins and minerals. Especially vitamins such as vitamin C are very vulnerable. Long-life fruit juice, for example, is heated for preservation. Unfortunately, most of the vitamin C is lost because of this.
Less stressful for the body
Processed food lacks what we need and also contains substances that burden our body. For example, when you deep-fry food, the fats will oxidize, forming harmful and even carcinogenic substances.
Every time our body does not recognize something as natural food, alarm bells will go off. The liver will have to take action to make all these substances harmless. This prevents the liver from focusing on the hundreds of other important functions that should be taking place. The immune system is also activated and depleted, causing it to stop functioning as it should when needed.
How can you eat more unprocessed food?
The best you can do is cook for yourself. When you cook yourself, you take control of your health into your own hands. Going out for dinner now and then is of course also fun. But with takeaway and frozen meals, you don’t know how the dishes came about.
When shopping, it is important to recognize unprocessed foods. These are a number of basic rules that you can use for this:
- Does it occur in nature like that? When you buy something in its natural form, it is 95% unprocessed. This basic rule is super simple and very effective.
- How many ingredients does it contain? If you choose something that has been slightly processed or packaged, take a look at the ingredients list. Yogurt that consists of milk, a bacterial culture and 1 thickener has not been processed enormously. A chocolate snack with filling sometimes contains up to 20 different ingredients. The fewer ingredients the better.
- Do I know the ingredients? If you know the ingredients of a product and have them in your kitchen cupboard, they are usually still quite natural. But all ingredients that you have never heard of are often synthetic colors or preservatives that only serve to make products look better. The body sees these substances as invaders and will activate the immune system.
- Can I make it myself? You could also do small operations such as canning vegetables or fruit or soaking legumes at home. They are harmless edits. It’s just convenient to be able to buy these products like that. But if you can no longer see how a food came about, then too many processing methods have probably been used.
- Is it organic? An apple in the fresh department seems to meet all of the above conditions. It occurs in nature, contains only 1 ingredient that we can recognize, and we can also make it ourselves by simply picking. But fruits and vegetables are often very sprayed. You do not see this, but it is a form of processing in which substances are used that you would rather not want in your body. Organic food is a good choice to prevent this.
How do you cook more with unprocessed food?
All the operations we do in our own kitchen are very harmless compared to what happens in some factories. But you can also inadvertently process healthy fresh food in your own kitchen in such a way that the good nutrients are lost. And sometimes even bad substances are formed. To ensure that you prepare more unprocessed food in your own kitchen, you can take the following tips into account:
- When you bake, don’t bake on the highest setting. At too high temperatures, fats will oxidize
- Cooking is less harmful than baking
- Also eat raw vegetables
- Never let your butter or oil get too brown
- Is some of your flesh black? Then cut it off and throw it away
- Cook fresh as much as possible. Saving your meal and reheating it later will cause nutrients to be lost
- Frying is unhealthy, only do it in moderation
- Avoid adding too much extra salt or sugars
- Fresh herbs contain more nutrients than dried herbs
- Use herbs for more flavor