It goes without saying that not all processed foods are unhealthy. Popular foods like bread, cheese, pasteurised milk and canned beans are processed food.
Health risks connected to ultra-processed foods
Processed food is any food that has been altered for packaging purposes. The process of adding ingredients to make food qualify for packaging results in processed foods. Food processing can be as basic as, freezing, canning, baking, drying, etc.
While some food like bread, milk and cheese have been altered, the alteration is not in any way detrimental to health.
However, there are foods on the market that are chemically processed (ultra-processed) to only contain refined ingredients and artificial substances, with little nutritional value. Such foods tend to have added chemical flavoring agents, colors, and sweeteners. They are engineered to taste heavenly while delivering hell.
These ultra-processed foods are sometimes called “cosmetic” foods, as compared with whole foods.
Such food include:
- Soft drinks
- Energy drinks
- Sweetened breakfast cereals
- Packaged soups
- Chicken nuggets
The above are the ones you need to keep away from.
Why is processed food bad?
Between the paleo diet, the keto diet and the debate over whether low-carb or low-fat diets are better for your health, deciding what to eat can seem more complicated than ever.
One issue that health experts seem to agree on is that we should all be eating fewer processed foods. What exactly are processed foods, why are they so bad for our health and how can we replace them in our diet?
Health Risks of Heavily Processed Foods
There are many potential health effects of ultra processed foods, including:
- Increased cancer risk. A five-year study of over 100,000 people found that every 10 percent increase in consumption of ultra processed food was associated with a 12 percent higher risk for cancer.
- Too much sugar, sodium and fat. Heavily processed foods often include unhealthy levels of added sugar, sodium and fat. These ingredients make the food we eat taste better, but too much of them leads to serious health issues like obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes.
- Lacking in nutritional value. Heavy processing strips many foods of their basic nutrients, which beats rationale.
- Calorie dense and addictive. It’s very easy to overindulge in unhealthy food and consume more calories than we realize. Processed foods like these are also designed to stimulate our brain’s “feel-good” dopamine center, making us crave more of them in the future.
- Full of artificial ingredients. Most of these added ingredients are 'the secret sauce' and have never been tested by anyone other than the company using them. That includes additives to change color, texture, flavor and odor as well as ingredients like preservatives and sweeteners.
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