Tuesday, May 3, 2011

The Healthiest (UNPROCESSED) Foods for Everyday

I have mentioned before that the best way to lose weight and get your best body (including muscle tone you never thought you could achieve and long lean muscles) is to improve your diet by including foods in their most natural state as possible. In simple terms: AVOID PROCESSED FOODS! Remember, if it didn't swim in the sea, walk on the land, fly in the air, or grow in the earth you probably don't want to eat it. If it comes in a box, carton, can, etc. you probably don't want to eat it. When processed foods are unavoidable, try to pick foods that are minimally processed (i.e. less than 5 ingredients). Here are some everyday foods that you can choose in their best form, a somewhat processed form, and the worst form.


1. Apple *** Natural Applesauce (No added sugar) *** Apple Toaster Pastry
2. Orange *** 100% Orange Juice *** Orange Drink/Gatorade
3. Fresh Strawberries *** Strawberry Preserves *** Strawberry Gelatin Dessert
4. Peach *** Canned Peaches in 100% Juice *** Canned Peaches in Syrup
5. Fresh Figs *** Fig Preserves *** Fig Newtons
6. Pineapple *** Canned, Diced Pineapple *** Pineapple Cocktail Cup
7. Corn on the Cob *** Corn Tortilla Chips *** Corn Flakes
8. Spinach *** Bagged, Pre-washed Spinach *** Frozen, Creamed Spinach
9. Garlic *** Jarred, Minced Garlic *** Bottled Garlic Marinade
10. Carrots *** Baby Carrots *** Frozen Honey-Glazed-Carrots
11. Soup from Scratch *** Canned Soup *** Dehydrated Soup Mix
12. Heritage Ham *** Deli Ham *** Packaged Deli Bologna
13. Whole Turkey *** Deli Turkey *** Turkey Meatballs
14. Grass-fed Beef *** Grain-fed Beef *** Frozen Beef Patties
15. Fresh Chicken Breasts *** Deli-sliced Chicken *** Chicken Nuggets
16. Pasture-raised Eggs *** Omega-3 Fortified Eggs *** Egg Beaters
17. Cream - Fat-free Half Cream/Half Milk *** Flavored Dairy Creamer
18. Plain Yogurt *** Flavored Yogurt *** Flavored Yogurt Drink
19. Whole Grain Bread *** Whole Wheat Bread *** Fortified White Bread
20. Dried Whole Wheat Pasta *** Dried White Pasta *** Instant Noodles (i.e. Ramen)
21. Brown Rice *** White Rice *** Flavored Instant Rice
22. Peanuts *** Natural Peanut Butter *** Processed Peanut Butter
23. Fresh Edamame *** Tofu *** Frozen Veggie Burgers

When you don't have time to cook from scratch, here are some good ideas of packaged foods that can still be healthful and minimally processed.

Pantry Staples:
  • Uncle Ben's Fast and Natural Whole Grain Instant Brown Rice
  • Ronzoni Healthy Harvest Whole Wheat Blend Spaghetti
  • Colavita Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Pacific Natural Foods Organic Free-range Chicken Broth
  • Bumble Bee Skinless and Boneless Pink Salmon
  • Dole Wildly Nutritious Signature Blends Frozen Mixed Berries
  • Cascadian Farm Organic Frozen Cut Spinach
  • Bird's Eye Asparagus Stir Fry
  • Annie's Homegrown Organic Whole Wheat Shells and White Cheddar
  • Kashi All-natural Tuscan Veggie Bake
  • Stonyfield Farm Organic Yogurt
  • Organic Valley Lowfat 1% Milk
  • Food for Life Organic 7 Sprouted Grains Bread
  • Alvarado St. Bakery Sprouted Multi-grain Bread
  • Bear Naked 100% Pure & Natural Cranberry Raisin Cereal
  • Arrowhead Mills Organic Steel Cut Oats Hot Cereal
  • Post Shredded Wheat Cereal
Snacks, condiments, and Spreads:
  • Larabar Energy Bars
  • Snyder's of Hanover Sourdough Hard Pretzels
  • St. Dalfour Black Cherry 100% Fruit Spread
  • Crazy Richard's Natural Chunky Peanut Butter (ONE ingredient!)
  • Maranatha Organic No-stir Creamy Peanut Butter
  • Guiltless Gourmet Mild Black Bean Dip
  • Wholly Guacamole Classic
  • Sabra Classic Hummus
  • San Marcos Chipotle Peppers in Adobo Sauce
  • Drew's All Natural Organic Salsa
  • Haagen-Dazs Fat-free Mango Sorbet

This is a simple list that helps you get the idea of what "processed" really means. If food is not in it's purest form, then it is processed. Foods that you would even consider healthy - like brown rice, applesauce, pre-washed bagged salad, baby carrots, and whole grain bread and pasta - are processed. It is nearly impossible for most of us to avoid all processed foods, but you just need to be more aware of what you are eating and how much of it is actually pure, natural food.
Just as a little tip - if you have a food processor or coffee bean grinder you can try to make your own nut butters and fruit spreads. Then you know exactly what is in it. Just be careful when you buy nuts that you buy plain, raw nuts. Buying roasted, salted, or flavored nuts just defeats the purpose.
Go back and read some earlier posts to remind yourself of other tips. Remember to try to keep sugar less than 5 grams per serving. Check out free Apps for your iPad or phone, especially Fooducate which gives each food a letter grade based on processing and nutrition simply by entering the barcode. Please feel free to contact me with any questions or comments and check back often!
In Good Health, Natalie