We all keep stressing the fact that we should avoid processed foods. But what are processed foods? How do they affect health and wellbeing?
|what is unhealthy processed food|
|processed versus unhealthy processed food|
There are processed versus unprocessed foods. Then there are healthy processed foods and unhealthy processed foods. Confused?
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) defines processed food as any raw food item that undergoes a series of processes, such as "washing, cleaning, milling, cutting, chopping, heating, pasteurizing, blanching, cooking, canning, freezing, drying, dehydrating, mixing, packaging or other procedures that alter the food from its natural state." The processing does not end here. Additionally, other ingredients may be added to the food. This includes additives, flavors, preservatives, nutrients, salt, sugars, and fats.
In simple words, processed foods include anything that has been changed in its form. For example, a cookie is processed food.
Well, it blends flour, fat, sweetener, flavors, additives, and preservatives. Each of the ingredients in the cookie have changed form. So this is processing.
Now I am sure you must be wondering if you should eat cookies at all since they are processed.
If you plan to buy cookies, then I will say NO.
Well, we all are addicted to processed foods. Anything that is unprocessed means it is in its natural form. For example, fruits that you eat raw.
When you bake with fruit, it changes form and becomes a processed food. Even your favorite jam is processed because the form of fruit changes to a jelly following a long process of blending and cooking. The fruit is mixed with sugar and preservatives to prolong its life.
I hope you have got my point.
Now, your focus should be on limiting processed foods and eliminating market junk, which is just calorie dense and nutritionally deficient.
I call store-bought junk a "calorie hero and nutritionally zero."
So you should try to make foods that are ultra-processed at home. That gives you the guarantee that you are not adding to your calorie burden alone but also getting some nutrition from it.
Packaged food is Highly Processed and Junk
Limit your intake of unhealthy processed foods and focus on eating fresh. Perhaps you can try to make healthy processed foods at home because the list of highly processed foods available in the market can BREAK YOUR HEART. Why?
Well, because you love all that stuff!
Some of the most common processed foods available include:
- butter, cheese
- white rice
- maida (all-purpose flour)
- cookies, cakes, crackers, and bakes
- breakfast cereals
- tinned vegetables
- frozen meats, including salami, sausage, bacon, ham, salami
- ready-to-eat meals
That pre-packaged paratha or idli sambar or rajma chawal, and the list is endless are all highly processed foods that must be avoided at any cost.
Now the next question that pops up in your mind is: Why is highly processed food bad?
Well, while eating whole, fresh, and unprocessed food is good for your body. Eating ultra-processed food puts you at a danger of high cholesterol, triglycerides, high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, thyroid, and stroke.