I think it's sad that Whole Foods Market has taken over the world. I can no longer proclaim my love of whole foods without people misconstruing it as a love of Whole Foods.
Research continues to show us that best stuff we can choose to eat is the food we've had available to us for the several hundred thousand years we've been on the planet. Food that's as close to its natural form as possible. Carrots. Beans. Apples. Blueberries. Fishes. Honey. Walnuts. You know... whole foods.
The category of "almost as good" includes very minimally processed things. Olive oil, nut butters, tomato juice, apple sauce, steel-cut oats, boiled lentils, plain yogurt, split pea soup... the ingredient list on these items is short and pronounceable.
Then, there's the "sure, but don't pig out" food category. Vanilla ice cream. Couscous. Banana muffins. Lemon curd. More, and more processed, ingredients.
Finally, the "really, you shouldn't" category: processed foods. Not sugar or honey, but high-fructose corn syrup or aspartame and acesulfame potassium. Not butter or oil, but partially hydrogenated soybean and/or cottonseed and/or palm kernel oil.
Incidentally, do you know what that "and/or" means on a product label? It means they don't exactly know which product they're using. It means they're holding out to see what's cheapest on the ag markets.
I've created an infographic (because I love 'em) to demonstrate this point a little better. Clearly, it's my own reinterpretation of the USDA's food pyramid.
All you need to do for better health is get in the habit of actually looking at nutrition labels on the food you're about to put in your mouth.
Is the thing you're about to eat a whole food? It probably doesn't have a label at all. Great! Try to make sure your diet is filled with whole foods.
Minimally-to-partially processed food with just a few things on the ingredient listing? Fine. If you're the one doing the processing, that's all the better.
Food that's processed to the point at which nothing that grew or flew is verifiable in it? Can't readily explain to a 5-year-old how people make or find all the ingredients it contains? Those are bad signs, friend. Put that thing back on the shelf and back away. Or, if you really can't resist, keep consumption to a minimum. One or two Oreos. A small handful of pita chips. A candy bar in the "mini" size.
We really are made up of what we eat. You can give your body far better building blocks than Doritos will ever provide.