When we eat our foods ( particularly plant ) in their whole natural states, we are ensuring that their nutrients have as much opportunity as possible to be completely absorbed and appreciated by our body.
They have all the complementary measures in place to help them do this and their large array of nutrients work together to fulfill their role in the plant and therefore in our body.
In the majority of cases, the more we manipulate or process our food sources the more we are destroying or decreasing their full nutritional potential and it’s sadly and finally our body that misses out.
Processing a food can mean many things;
When we use to much heat or water in our cooking practice ( particularly vegetables ), we lose much of the flavour and the nutritional status also declines. This is the same for when they have travelled a long distance.
When we cut a fruit or vegetable and leave it exposed for too long, this is also a form of food degradation or oxidation.
And even if we remove stems or leaves, we are potentially throwing away many beneficial properties and vital energy that the plant can offer us.
A good example is a grain. In it’s whole state, a grain is made up of 3 parts - the germ (sprouting part), endosperm (starch) and the bran. Each play their role, rely on each other and have their own set of nutrients. They are complete and when ingested will also offer protection and support to healthy cells in our body. When the same grain is refined or processed, the majority of nutrients are removed, only starch remains and this simply cannot offer the body the same protection.
There are of course cases when we need to process some foods, via heating, soaking or sprouting,
to bring out flavours, make nutrients more bioavailable and kill harmful bacteria and potential toxins (meat ,fish, eggs, grains,beans).
A helpful general rule to follow when trying to increase our nutrient intake and eat whole is to;
Include a colourful and seasonal mix of raw and steamed/sauteed vegetables in our diet (in their whole forms if possible)
Avoid overcooking any vegetable or fruit (3 - 5 minutes is generally sufficient)
Soak our whole grains before cooking, so that they can be better absorbed
Think about the journey our ingredients have made in order to reach our plate and see if we can shorten it- animal and plant!
And finally …..
Remember our aim is to eat whole and so before attacking our organic vegetables, take a moment, explore and find out about how and if we can use the skin, stem and foliage!