Q. We are hearing a lot about the benefits of whole foods in the diet. What is the latest information?
A. Everyday, researchers are finding new links between the environment, diet and health. The challenge is to find ways to protect one’s health in a world bombarded with impurities. In plants, the varieties of color that are found within fruits and vegetables represent and provide important nutrients that help protect the body from the ravaging world around us. There are more than 10,000 known phytonutrients (“plant-based nutrients” with specific pharmacological benefits). Some of the well-known phytonutrients are lycopene in tomatoes and EGCG from green tea. It is no secret that most diets are severely lacking in phytonutrients and other whole nutritious foods. In fact, the traditional western diet is based on animal foods, such as meat and dairy products. This diet does not provide many plant foods like fruits, vegetables and whole grains; therefore, the typical western diet has been linked to many of the health issues Americans face today. Even prestigious research institutions, including the National Cancer Institute, are urging Americans to eat more varied, well-balanced diets that are rich in dark, leafy greens. This is due to the multitude of active components (phytonutrients) provided by green foods, fruits and whole grains grown locally, which have been shown in research to play an important role in the healthy maintenance of the human body. †