In our busy twenty-first century lives, everything is a rush. Many of us are so exhausted at the end of our days that we just cannot find the energy to cook. This bad habit leaves us reaching for quickly microwavable processed foods like ready meals or instead, dialling up our favourite takeaways.
Whilst the convenience may be worth it, and whilst the foods may even taste good, the additives and preservatives that processed foods contain are more harmful for our health and our budgets in the long run.
Even our snacks contain added unnecessary sugars, whereas switching them with natural options like vegan chocolate can have huge positive impacts on our health and lifestyle.
On the other hand clean, organic and natural diets with focuses on fresh and natural foods can provide key nutrients in just a few ingredients. Just like their nutritious value, the benefits of these diets are also plentiful so read on to discover them.
What Are Natural Foods?
Natural foods are foods that have not been altered from their natural state. Whereas processed foods will have been altered with additives, sugars and preservatives for example, natural foods contain none of these.
Examples of natural foods include fruits and vegetables, as well as whole grains, beans, legumes and nuts and seeds.
The Benefits Of Natural Foods:
1. Lower Cholesterol
Eating foods with too much saturated fat raises cholesterol levels, which can lead to heart disease and risk of stroke. Foods that contain saturated fat include cakes, puddings, pastries and pies, as well as crisps and biscuits.
Banish saturated fats and swap these with healthy unsaturated fats to keep cholesterol levels at a healthy level. Add in whole grains like in wholewheat pasta and brown bread, alongside raw fruit and vegetables and other natural foods like nuts which contain healthy fats, avocados, lentils and seeds instead.
2. Less Risk of Disease
It’s long been known that processed meats, fried or greasy foods, high sugar sweets and refined grains are linked to general inflammation which puts us at a high risk of developing heart disease or worsening preexisting heart conditions.
Choosing lean, natural and unprocessed foods lowers this risk of inflammation which in turn helps to keep our heart healthy.
3. Reduced Weight Gain
Processed foods are full of unhealthy unsaturated fats and sugars. Sugar is known to be one of the worst offenders when it comes to gaining weight, and it can be found in high quantities in savoury as well as sweet.
Natural foods meanwhile mitigate this risk of weight gain as they only contain naturally occurring sugars and avoid unhealthy fats.
A scientific study even confirmed this with two test groups. One group of participants ate a 600 calorie meal of only natural foods whilst the remaining group ate only processed foods. At the end of the experiment it was found that the natural foods group burned twice as many calories as the processed foods group, and even burnt calories whilst eating their meals.
4. Saves More Money
The cost of takeaways and ready meals soon adds up to a weekly budget. However, choosing to cook with natural foods saves money because the ingredients are already in the cupboards.
Meals like pasta bakes, pinto bean bakes, stews, soups and other naturally healthy options can be made in freezable, pre-prepared batches which can last for a week. Plus, because the ingredients are natural and therefore longer lasting, leftovers can be frozen and reheated, reducing the amount of wastage.
5. You Know What Goes Into It
Processed meals and foods have been found to contain all kinds of unhealthy and often bizarre added extras. For example, most processed beef burgers contain around 500 milligrams of sodium.
Preparing and cooking your own meals using natural foods and ingredients means that you control the amounts of calories, healthy fats and naturally occuring sugars entering your cooking. This helps anybody who is keen on their fitness, or living with health conditions like cholesterol or diabetes.
6. It’s environment friendly
The world’s population increases every day, and as populations grow, so does the demand for food.
However, the production of food takes an environmental toll on our natural world.
Rainforests around the world are being deconstructed every day, damaging the worlds atmosphere and making animals homeless due to agricultural farming.
Naturally occurring foods and resources help to develop sustainable agriculture which benefits the health of the planet by reducing energy consumption and preventing pesticides from entering our waterways.
So the next time a greasy pastry calls out to you, stop, think and remember that whilst that first bite may taste great, in the longer term fresh, natural foods will save you money, time and keep you in shape.. All of which will taste better in the long run.