When most people think of processed foods, they usually think of those quick microwave meals or other ready to eat food. The definition of processed foods is any food that has been changed, or altered so it is no longer a natural food.
Ways of changing food from its natural state include adding preservatives, flavorings and colorings to extend the life, improve the look and even the flavor. Other alterations to foods include dehydrating and anything that would make food faster to cook and alter the flavor.
On the surface, processed foods do not seem to be unhealthy. But if you look deeper, you will find that many processed foods contain too much fat, salt and sugars. Not to mention the unpronounceable ingredients added to enhance shelf life, flavor and color.
Common Processed Foods
Convenient foods are common. Some people do not know how to cook nor do they have time to prepare a meal from scratch. So what are the most common processed foods?
We eat them every day and rarely think about what is in them or how they are made.
Pretty much anything you buy at the store that is not in the produce or meat section is processed food.
- Chips, snacks
- Canned fruits and vegetables
- Meats such as bacon, ham and lunch meats
- Soft drinks and even drink mixes
- Cheese and milk products
- Any ready to eat meals or snacks
Some of the foods on this list may be surprising. How are milk and cheese on the list? They are altered from their natural state. Processing is not always about adding things or altering food for convenience. Pasteurizing, dehydrating, canning, freezing, and even baking are forms of processing food. Some foods need to be processed in order to eat or cook with.
Unhealthy Processing of Food
Some foods are processed by adding salt, fats and sugar to enhance flavor, appearance or give a longer shelf life. When we consume these foods, it increases the chance that we are getting too much salt, sugar or other things to our diet.
Other foods are processed by adding ingredients that normal educated people can barely pronounce. These ingredients also serve to enhance flavor, color and extend shelf life. Many of these types of un-natural chemical ingredients may or may not be safe to eat on a regular basis.
Recently the World Health Organization has recommended cutting back on consuming processed meats. The processed meats they are referring to are hot dogs, sausages, bacon, ham, salami and other types of sandwich meats. The reason is due to the way these meats are processed.
Become a Label Reader
In order to be sure the food you are eating is healthy, simply become a label reader. Avoid foods that have a lot of added sugar, fat and things you cannot pronounce. Look at the nutrition label.
- If you see more than 5g of saturated fat or 17.5g total fat, this is too much and should be eaten sparingly.
- If the can of fruit you would like to eat has more than 22.5g of sugar, don’t over eat it
- Salt is very common and if you are making an effort to reduce it in your diet, 1.5g of sodium is all you want to see.
The bottom line when it comes to eating a healthy diet, if you cannot pronounce it, then it is likely not healthy.
Eating foods that are processed as little as possible is the most healthy choice, but we all need a good breakfast with some ham or bacon! That is all well and good, but not on a daily basis.[/wr_text][/wr_column][/wr_row]