What are Processed Foods?

What are Processed Foods?
by Jennifer Elliot | June 13, 2012

Processed foods are essentially any foods that undergo any sort of alteration before they are made available to us for consumption. In a broader perspective, most foods we consume are processed, as these processes range from the simpler freezing and dying of foods to the more complex procedures of conjuring up a frozen meal with all the right balances between nutrients and ingredients!

The primitive means of food processing include fermenting, dying, and preserving with salt etc. The modern era with all its complexities enact has also rubbed off on our diets and food intake. The modern day food processing techniques surpass the previous ones by miles afar and present us with a variety of foods in a more convenient, affordable and easily available way.

Processed Foods

To make it simpler, here is a list of foods that are categorically stated to come under the horizon of processed foods:

  • Canned and frozen foods including fruits, vegetables, fish etc.
  • Packaged foods carrying labels saying natural or organic for example cereals
  • Fortified foods; those with an added punch of vitamins and minerals
  • Ready to eat meals for example microwave meals

Are Processed Foods Healthy?

With a more enhanced workforce and women working just as committedly as men in the workplace, most families have jumped onto the processed foods band wagon. Most American families are increasingly consuming microwave dinners and canned products to save time spent in preparing meals. Processed foods may be a convenient means of living. However, they can very well be harmful to health as well. This is because processed foods are laden with artificial sweeteners, trans-fat, colorings, chemicals and preservatives. However, this is not even the whole story with processed foods. The catch is that these processed foods that claim to be fortified with every other nutrient under the sky, in actuality also strip off the foods of their naturally occurring nutrients such as those of the good kind of fats, soluble fiber and antioxidants. No natural nutrients coupled with these harmful additives are a confirmed recipe for doom!

Must Avoid List of Processed Foods Ingredients

Here is a must avoid list of processed foods ingredients that have the potential of having dire and detrimental impacts on ones’ health.

Trans-Fat

Also referred to as hydrogenated fats, trans-fats are prevalent in most bakery items such as vegetable shortening, crackers, cookies, muffins, snack foods, margarine and the likes. Trans-fats are also widely found in fast foods and microwave popcorn.
Trans-fats are the worst kind of fats when it comes to health. Trans fat and saturated fat have a dire impact on heart health. Moreover, Trans-fat also increases the levels of the bad kind of cholesterol and decreases the levels of the good kind of cholesterol. It has been documented by research that replacing trans-fat with the good kind of fats such as polyunsaturated fats can decrease the risk for heart attacks by a smacking 53%!

Preservatives

Among the list of processed foods ingredients that must be avoided, preservatives rank quite high! The most commonly used and the most harmful preservatives are butylatedhydroxytoluene (BHT) and sulfites.

Research has documented for BHT to induce stomach and liver tumors in animals when used in high levels. Furthermore, research has displayed results whereby BHT has the impact of rupturing red blood cells and stimulating symptoms pertaining to chemical sensitivity within the body. As far as sulfites are concerned, this preservative too has been documented by research to not be a safe one.

Sulfites aggravate asthmatic attacks in children and adults alike and have been known to destroy vitamin B1 compounds as well. Sulfites have been banned by the FDA from fruits and vegetables, but not other kinds of foods.

Artificial Sweeteners

Artificial sweeteners such as high-fructose corn syrups are cheaper than traditional naturally occurring sweeteners, are sweeter in taste and mesh well with most ingredients in a variety of foods. High-fructose corn syrup is used in a wide array of foods including spaghetti sauce, bacon, beer, ketchup, soft drinks, muffins and ham-burger buns as well!

Research has displayed some startling results associated with this sweetener. It shows that consuming this sweetener has the effect of raising the risk for heart diseases and that of diabetes. This sweetener is also known to disrupt the levels of cholesterol, blood sugar and insulin as well. Furthermore, research suggests that high-fructose corn syrup also promotes overeating and forces the liver to pump ‘triglycerides’, a heart threatening chemical, into the blood stream.


About the Author - Jennifer Elliot

Jennifer Elliot takes her Nutrition (and yours) very seriously! She believes that the strongest weapon we have against all diseases, ailments and conditions is Nutrition. She also widely promotes the importance of exercise to maintain optimal health. Keep an eye out for Jenniferu2019s articles to remain updated on how to lead a nutritious life!

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