What Is The Unprocessed Food Diet? – Greatist

There’s a lot of talk about eating “clean” and “whole” these days — as if these chips are dirty… or aren’t from whole dang potatoes?!
Don’t worry, we’re not here to judge — or to come for your snack cupboard. (Just *try* to take my Oreos. See what happens. 😈 )
But there’s def some convincing research to suggest that eating more fresh, unprocessed foods can have a positive impact on your overall health and wellness. These include:
The “unprocessed food diet” can vary widely depending on who you ask, but it also typically means skipping things like packaged cookies, crackers, and fast food.
Still, processing WTF “unprocessed” means? Understandable. Here’s the deal.
TBH, there’s no single definition for an unprocessed food diet. Obvi, it means eating unprocessed food — but for some people that means absolutely *nothing* with added salt, sugar, or preservatives, while others are a little more lenient in their approach.
To understand what makes up a (mostly or fully) unprocessed food diet, let’s look at what processed and unprocessed roughly means in the first place:
Those who follow a “whole food,” or unprocessed food diet pretty much make their own rules as to what fits their diet goals. The general idea, though, is to limit processed foods as much as possible and eat more unprocessed foods due to the inherent health benefits.
According to 2018 research, about 60 percent of calories Americans consumed from 2007 to 2012 came from ultra-processed foods.
In a large 2020 review, researchers found that a diet high in ultra-processed foods is linked to a number of adverse health outcomes, diseases, disorders, and conditions like heart disease, IBS, depression, obesity, and a shorter lifespan. It’s also linked to overeating. Meanwhile, the same study found beneficial health outcomes to be associated with diets higher in unprocessed or minimally processed foods.
The potential benefits of eating unprocessed foods and eating healthier in general include:
TBF, processing isn’t all bad. For example, pasteurization, cooking, and drying can inhibit the growth of bad bacteria. Meanwhile, additives like emulsifiers can preserve the texture of foods, such as preventing PB from separating into solid and liquid parts. Processing with preservatives can also help extend shelf life of foods.
At the same time, some highly processed foods can be addictive, have fewer nutrients, and may contain added sugar, sodium, and oils. (Watch this YouTuber eat ultra-processed for a week to see, at least anecdotally, how it can make you feel. Spoiler alert: Not so good. But the donuts were really good at least!)
Still not sure how to eat unprocessed (or minimally processed)?! We got you.
Highly processed foods you may want to limit include:
There’s a lot of variation in what people count as processed. Some people say wine counts as minimally processed, while others swear any alcohol at all is a no-go. Others say dried fruit without added sugar is fair game from time to time, while others turn their heads at the slightest glimpse of a raisin. Some swear off tofu or PB, while others are like, it’s fineee!
In the end, you get to make the call based on your unique needs and preferences. You do you!
There are a couple of diets out there that are loosely based on the foundations of unprocessed eating. However, we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention that the below diets can be extreme and potentially harmful when it comes to eating a balanced, whole foods diet.
According to the Whole 30 website, following this diet means:
Eating “real food,” which they describe as:
They recommend eating foods with a “simple or recognizable list of ingredients, or no ingredients at all because they’re whole and unprocessed.”
Avoiding the following:
Some specific off-limit foods that fall under the list, according to the site, include pancakes, bread, tortillas, biscuits, muffins, alternative flour pizza crust or pastas, granola, ice cream, commercial-prepared chips, or deep-fried French fries.
As the name suggests, you’re supposed to keep this up for at least 30 days to see what changes happen.
Read our complete guide to Whole30 here.
Again, we’re not here to call your diet dirty or clean — we’re not your mom! What you eat is up to you. But the methods of eating often called clean eating are related to the unprocessed food diet and worth mentioning.
While there are variations of this diet out there, in general, it’s based on fruits, veggies, fats, protein, and whole grains. It sometimes involves taking specific supplements, but we’re going to leave that part up to you and your doc.
It involves avoiding the following:
Read our complete guide to clean eating here.
An unprocessed food diet means different things to different people. But in general, eating foods that are unprocessed to minimally processed like fruits, veggies, eggs, meat, seafood, and natural fats leads to positive health outcomes and may be worth a try.
Minimizing ultra-processed foods like packaged snacks, fast food, and sugary drinks is also associated with improved health and wellness.
Last medically reviewed on March 29, 2022
8 sourcescollapsed



2 thoughts on “What Is The Unprocessed Food Diet? – Greatist”

Leave a Comment