Walking down the grocery store aisle, it is difficult to not be tempted by the eye catching labels and colorful branding on delicious food. Delicious and convenient is hard to beat, unless of course you are talking about the actual nutritional content of the food.
When you think, “processed foods” you might immediately think fast food – but the truth is that your cabinet most likely contains processed foods. If it comes in a box, bag, can or jar and has list of ingredients on the label – it is processed. Processed foods are altered from their natural state for “convenience” to the consumer. The problem is not the canning, freezing, refrigeration or dehydration of the foods, it is the list of ingredients that manufacturers add to the food to “enhance” it.
Here are just a few reasons why you should be avoiding processed foods:
Cancer – Some synthetic chemicals used in the processed foods industry are known to have carcinogenic properties.
OBESITY – Heavily processed foods are usually higher in sugar, fat and salt, and lower in nutrients and fiber than the raw foods used to create them, making them the perfect choice if you’re interested in unhealthy weight gain and water retention.
HEART DISEASE – Many processed foods have trans fatty acids (TFA), the dangerous type of fat you don’t want in your diet. TFA’s give a rise to LDL, the dangerous cholesterol, and squash HDL, the good one.
If you can’ t pronounce it, or have to Google it to know what it is, do you really want to eat it?
Take a look at the ingredients from a well-known, frozen breakfast sandwich made up of Canadian bacon, egg whites, cheese and a honey wheat English muffin. Except the ingredient label actually reads:
MUFFIN MADE WITH HONEY AND WHEAT: ENRICHED BLEACHED FLOUR (WHEAT FLOUR, MALTED BARLEY FLOUR, NIACIN, IRON, THIAMINE MONONITRATE [VITAMIN B1], RIBOFLAVIN [VITAMIN B2], FOLIC ACID), WATER, STONE GROUND WHOLE WHEAT FLOUR, YEAST, HIGH FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP, WHEAT GLUTEN, HONEY, CONTAINS 2% OF LESS OF: YELLOW CORN MEAL, RICE FLOUR, DISTILLED VINEGAR, CALCIUM PROPIONATE AND POTASSIUM SORBATE (PRESERVATIVES), LEAVENING (SODIUM ACID PYROPHOSPHATE, BAKING SODA, MONOCALCIUM PHOSPHATE, CALCIUM SULFATE), FUMARIC ACID, SALT, NATURAL FLAVOR, VEGETABLE OIL (SOYBEAN AND/OR COTTONSEED OILS), YEAST NUTRIENTS (MONOCALCIUM PHOSPHATE, CALCIUM SULFATE, AMMONIUM SULFATE), CORN STARCH, SOY FLOUR. FRIED EGG WHITE PATTY: EGG WHITES, MODIFIED TAPIOCA STARCH, CARRAGEENAN GUM, SALT, NATURAL FLAVORS.CANADIAN BACON WATER ADDED, SMOKE FLAVORING ADDED: CURED WITH WATER, CONTAINS 2% OR LESS OF: SALT, SUGAR, SODIUM LACTATE, POTASSIUM LACTATE, DEXTROSE, SODIUM PHOSPHATE, SODIUM DIACETATE, SMOKE FLAVORING, PARTIALLY HYDROGENATED SOYBEAN OIL, SODIUM ERYTHORBATE, SODIUM NITRITE, FLAVORINGS. PASTEURIZED PROCESS AMERICAN CHEESE: AMERICAN CHEESE (CULTURED MILK, SALT, ENZYMES, ARTIFICIAL COLOR), WATER, CREAM, SODIUM CITRATE, SALT, SODIUM PHOSPHATE, SORBIC ACID (PRESERVATIVE), LACTIC ACID, ARTIFICIAL COLOR, ENZYMES, SOY LECITHIN.
Did you know?
The FDA doesn’t require food manufacturers to list additives as ingredients that they consider Generally Regarded As Safe (GRAS). All the label has to say is “artificial flavor,” “artificial coloring” or “natural.” Yes, you read that right, “natural.”
Although you may not be consuming fast foods, consider the processed foods you may be including in your “home cooked” meals: stir-fry mixes, potstickers, chicken dishes and barbecued ribs, as well as canned or frozen vegetables, specialty breads, canned soup, commercial pasta sauce, bagged salads, or hot dogs.
Feed your body the nutrients it deserves!
Making small adjustments to your eating habits by being more conscious of the ingredients you are consuming can significantly impact your overall health. Eating food in its natural state, without added ingredients, will be a reminder to your taste buds that the clean, crisp tastes of nature can be just as delicious as the processed foods you love. Get creative, get excited about it, and try whole foods you’ve never tried before. Thanks to the Internet you have access to millions of healthy recipes to make a diet free of processed foods, satisfying and delicious.