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 originally all human food was whole food, one of the earliest uses of the term post-industrial age was in 1960 when the leading organic food organization called the Soil Association opened a shop in the name selling organic and whole grain products in London, UK.
The term is often confused with organic food, but whole foods are not necessarily organic, nor are organic 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". 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.
- 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.
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