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 salt, carbohydrates, or fat. Examples of whole foods include unpolished grains, beans, fruits, vegetables, and animal products, including meats and non-homogenized dairy products. Although, according to some very old and revered sources, including the Bible, all human food was originally whole food, the earliest use of the term in the post-industrial age appears to be in 1946 in The Farmer, a quarterly magazine published and edited from his farm by F. Newman Turner, a writer and pioneering organic farmer. The magazine sponsored the establishment of the Producer Consumer Whole Food Society Ltd, with Newman Turner as president and Derek Randal as vice-president. Whole Food was defined as ‘Mature produce of field, orchard, or garden without subtraction, addition, or alteration grown from seed without chemical dressing, in fertile soil manured solely with animal and vegetable wastes, and composts therefrom, and ground, raw rock and without chemical manures, sprays, or insecticides’ Its principal aim was to act as a liaison between suppliers and the growing public demand for such food. In 1960 the leading organic food organization called the Soil Association opened a shop in the name selling organic and whole grain products in London, UK.
Although originally defined as organic whole foods are now not necessarily organic, nor are organically grown foods necessarily whole.
"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." A diet rich in a variety of whole foods has been hypothesized as possibly anti-cancer due to the synergistic effects of antioxidants and phytochemicals common in whole foods.
A focus on whole foods offers three main benefits over a reliance on dietary supplements: they provide greater nutrition for being a source of more complex micronutrients, they provide essential dietary fiber and they provide naturally occurring protective substances, such as phytochemicals.
- Bruce, B; Spiller, GA; Klevay, LM; Gallagher, SK (2000). "A diet high in whole and unrefined foods favorably alters lipids, antioxidant defenses, and colon function" (PDF). Journal of the American College of Nutrition 19 (1): 61–7. doi:10.1080/07315724.2000.10718915. PMID 10682877.
- The Whole Food Bible : How to Select & Prepare Safe, Healthful Foods, by Christopher S. Kilham. ISBN 0-89281-626-0.
- Conford, P.(2011) The Development of the Organic Network, p.417. Edinburgh, Floris Books ISBN 978-066315-803-2.
- Minutes of Whole Food Society committee April 26th 1949
- Organic farming: an international history by Lockeretz, William CABI Publishing Series. ISBN 0-85199-833-X
- Liu, Rui Hai. "Potential synergy of phytochemicals in cancer prevention: mechanism of action." The Journal of nutrition 134.12 (2004): 3479S-3485S. PMID 15570057
- "Supplements: Nutrition in a pill?". Mayo Clinic. Retrieved 2011-12-12.