9 Benefits of Eating Real Food - Step To Health

9 Benefits of Eating Real Food

The Western diet is characterized by a high presence of processed products. In contrast, the diet of our ancestors was dominated by real food and fresh food. Here are 9 reasons to bring it back.
9 Benefits of Eating Real Food

Last update: 10 January, 2022

Processed foods are tasty, quick, and easy to prepare, which makes things easier for many people with a fast-paced lifestyle. However, they can also negatively affect our health and, for this reason, choosing and eating real food and fresh food is one of the best bets long-term.

Real food can be defined as “food that’s as close to its natural state as possible”. It’s composed of fresh, whole, unprocessed (or very little processed) foods.

There’s no specific or exhaustive list of foods that fit under this umbrella. But most are found among the groups of fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, eggs, oils, whole grains, dairy, meat, and fish.

Apart from being great for our health, there are many different reasons to join the real food trend. Want to find out what they are? In the following article, we’ll tell you the most important ones and how to make appropriate and affordable purchases.

Reasons for eating real food

Real food.
Eating real food implies natural, unprocessed, and therefore healthier foods.

1. Nutrient supply

The body needs vitamins, minerals, proteins, and lipids to function and develop normally. These are best provided by fresh, whole, unprocessed foods.

Most fresh, whole foods contain one or more of the nutrient groups that are important for health. In contrast, these are often missing in industrialized foods which, on the contrary, often contain excessive amounts of other harmful ingredients (such as salt, refined flours, or trans fats).

2. Presence of phytonutrients

The nutrients necessary for the daily functioning of the body are carbohydrates, proteins, fats, vitamins, and minerals. Apart from these, there are other bioactive compounds with an important role in human health: phytochemicals.

A great variety of them are known, such as probiotics, antioxidants, carotenes, glucosinolates, phytoestrogens, etc. They all play an active role in modulating the immune system and other specific health-supporting activities.

Discover more in this fascinating article: Types of Antioxidants: Properties and Uses

3. A greater choice

Contrary to what many people think, there’s a wide range of options to choose from within real food. Not only fruits and vegetables, but also whole grains, fish, cheese, or nuts.

Gradually, new foods can be added to the regular food routine. In this way, nutrient intake is expanded, the range of flavors is broadened, and menus become less routine.

4. More flavor in dishes

This benefit is undeniable and could perhaps be ranked first. All real food and homemade recipes taste delicious. You may even end up with a passion for cooking you never knew you had!

5. More healthy fats

Some of the best sources of lipids are found in some of the simplest and freshest foods. Perhaps olive oil stands out above all others, but we can also mention avocados, nuts, and oily fish.

6. Less added sugars

Most fresh foods don’t contain any added sugars. On the other hand, this isn’t the case in many processed products. They occur mostly in sweets, pastries, cookies, commercial sauces, dairy desserts, and ready meals.

The recommendations of the competent authorities point to the need to reduce their intake to below 10% of our total daily calories. In a standard 2000-calorie diet, this would be equivalent to 2 dessertspoonfuls per day.

It should be noted that the sugar contained in fruits can’t be compared to the latter, since, being part of their matrix, it doesn’tt behave like refined sugars. However, you do need to be careful with juices and also with yogurts and certain dairy products. Many of them may have added sweeteners.

7. More benefits of real food: reduced risk of disease

Some fresh food.
Choosing unprocessed foods can improve the taste of your dishes and, at the same time, contribute to your health.

Switching from processed and ultra-processed foods to real food can reduce the occurrence of certain health problems. There’s scientific data that corroborates this statement; the most abundant, related to a lower incidence of cardiovascular pathologies.

Likewise, a diet high in processed foods also has an impact on an increase in mortality due to all causes, a higher incidence of coronary artery disease, atherosclerosis, diabetes, and obesity.

8. A lower environmental impact

Dietary choices are one of the possible strategies to minimize the environmental impact of the processed food production system. Some changes could have an impact on greenhouse gas emissions, water use, or biodiversity loss.

Reducing the intake of processed and ultra-processed foods is one of them. But this isn’t enough. As authors Richie and Rosie point out, it is necessary to reduce the amount of dairy and meat in diets for these changes to be significant.

Another great article for you: What’s a Sustainable Diet?

9. Economic savings

Choosing to eat healthier and without processed foods doesn’t have to be more expensive. You just need to know how to choose the right products, avoid wasting food and, also, all those superfluous purchases.

How to choose real food in a healthy and economical way

It’s easy to think that eating healthy and choosing real food is going to be expensive, but this isn’t always the case and it may even be cheaper in the long run by reducing the incidence of pathologies.

To begin with, it’s highly recommended to do your shopping in the market or in small specialty stores. The people in charge can advise on the most affordable products (seasonal or home-grown) and the best way to prepare and use them.

In these stores, you can also buy loose fruit, vegetables, nuts, or cereals. This is very useful for homes with few people and for products that are used in small quantities.

In addition, opting for real food goes beyond the food you choose. It also includes other habits such as planning menus, making shopping lists, and preventing waste and throwing away leftover food. Irrespective of whether the articles are expensive or cheap, this will give you savings in the long term.

Going shopping in a planned way and with a definitive list means that you’ll steer clear of impulse purchases or whims – products that, in general, aren’t necessary, and are completely dispensable.

Basing your diet on real food is a step towards a healthier life

There are many reasons to start eating real food, and doing so can bring health, taste, and financial benefits. Without a doubt, fresh foods should be part of the daily menu.

Of course, it’s also important to keep in mind that it isn’t dangerous or wrong to use processed foods occasionally if you’re in a hurry or in a specific recipes you’re making. However, they aren’t suitable products to be part of your regular diet.

In addition, it should be emphasized that real food is only part of a healthy lifestyle. In order to enjoy all its benefits, you need to lead an active life, get adequate rest, stay away from stress, and cultivate social relationships.

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5 Consequences of Excessive Consumption of Ultra-processed Foods
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5 Consequences of Excessive Consumption of Ultra-processed Foods

Ultra-processed foods contain a series of ingredients that are harmful to the human body, if we eat them in excess.

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