First of all, what IS a processed food?
A processed food is a food item that has been bagged, canned, jarred, boxed or gone through some other process that changes it from its natural state to something else.
A processed food does not occur in nature in that state and typically has preservatives, hydrogenated oils, sugars, salt and often artificial colors and flavors to make it appear more appealing to the grocery store customer.
In fact, the more ingredients listed indicates the food item has been highly processed. Examples of processed foods you will find in the store: cereals, bread, cookies, mac-n-cheese, pizza, crackers, potato chips.
Okay so if it's not a processed food what is it?
The opposite of a processed food is a whole food.
A whole food is a food items that is exactly or very close to how it presents in nature without any added ingredients. Examples of whole foods are fresh produce of all kinds, eggs, 100% whole grain brown rice, fish, poultry and meats with no added ingredients.
Not all processed foods are bad and the convenience of some is often understandable. But, in most cases, however, avoiding processed foods and choosing whole foods is preferable.
Why avoid processed foods?
Here are 5 important reasons to avoid processed foods, especially if you are wanting to lose weight and be healthy:
1. Salty Risks. According to nutritional experts processed foods have a ridiculous amount of sodium. Many processed foods far surpass the recommended limit of 2,300 milligrams per day. Too much sodium puts us at very high risk of developing high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, osteoporosis, stomach cancer and kidney disease, according to the American Heart Association.
2. Sugar Coated. Processed foods often contain lots of added sugar. According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, too much sugar in your daily diet can lead to decay of teeth, obesity, type 2 diabetes, unhealthy cholesterol levels and heart disease. Additionally, if you eat processed foods full of sugar, you won't have room in your belly for all the healthy whole foods that protect and enhance your health and wellbeing.
3. Bad Fats Abound. Processed foods often contain trans fats which come from partially hydrogenated fat. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that if there can be a reduction of trans fats in the food supply we might see a reduction of 7,000 deaths from heart disease each year and up to 20,000 heart attacks each year because trans fats build up plaque in the arteries and this can contribute to heart attack. Whoa. Enough said.
4. Chemicals, Additives, Preservatives! Oh My! MSG, BHT, BHA... it's alphabet soup and there have been many research studies linking these additives to severe health problems. Processed foods most often contain chemicals to increase shelf life and artificially enhance flavor... so you'll keep eating it.... Think about this... Do you want this in your body?
5. Genetically Modified and Pesticide Laden. I don't want to get into the GMO debate, I do want to say, though, if a plant created in a laboratory or factory rather than coming up from the earth naturally it might not be well-received by your body.
Processed foods also most often contain pesticides. Pesticides are poison sprayed on crops to keep insects away.
Do you want to eat poison? I don't.
Buy and eat organic whole foods instead of processed foods for optimum health and wellbeing.
The next time you're strolling through the grocery, opt for the fresh and frozen produce, eggs, wild caught fish over all the colorful boxed and canned items.