There have been multiple concerns about processed foods and their impact on health. The consumption of processed foods in America is at an all-time high, and it has developed into a worrying trend. A few examples of processed foods are chips, sausages, candy, soda, bacon, cookies, and so on.
Basic food processing is crucial to safeguard certain perishable items, such as dairy, fresh meat and others. However, the major health concerns lie with the consumption of food that is highly processed.
This article will help you with a basic understanding of processed food and its impact on your health.
What Are Processed Foods?
Processed food is one that is modified during the preparation stage so that it can be more flavourful and convenient for consumption, and has a greater shelf life. Most of the food we consume tends to be processed in one manner or the other. However, some foods are way more processed than others.
For instance, bagged salad and ready-to-eat macaroni are two such examples. Both foods are processed, but the bagged salad is only mechanically (slightly) processed, so the natural state of the salad stays pretty much the same.
Meanwhile, ready-to-eat macaroni is a highly processed food, as it's chemically modified to include other ingredients, additives and artificial flavours.
Do Processed Foods Affect your Health?
Does processed food affect your health? Yes, they do.
The mechanical processing of food does not make it unhealthy for people. However, highly processed foods that chemically alter its original composition can be harmful to your health.
Such foods consistsonly of artificial substances and refined ingredients that provide little to no nutritional value to your body. Rather, the chemical flavouring of the food harms your health. The highly processed foods include ready meals, chips, candy, instant noodles, processed cheese, baked goods, sodas, and so on.
The overconsumption of highly processed foods leads to many health risks, as they contain a high level of fat, sodium, sugar and salt. Unfortunately, half of people's diet comprises highly processed foods.
Health Risks of Overconsumption of Highly Processed Foods
Here are some ways in which excess consumption of highly processed foods can impact your health:
High consumption of sugar is one of the risk factors involving obesity, which can further increase the probability of other chronic diseases.
Highly processed foods are loaded with sugar. It does not provide any nutrition to the body and only increases the intake of carbohydrates along with calories. That can create a subconscious craving for such foods by triggering a sense of liking in your mind.
Different names of sugars are used by brands on nutritional labels of the products to confuse people. Some common names for sugar are nectar, glucose, corn syrup, malt, sucrose, and so on.
Little Nutritional Value
Consumption of processed foods strips them of their natural basic nutrients. Thus, having this food only adds carbohydrates and has no nutritional value to your body. These foods are also quicker to digest and burn lesser calories while digesting them. That leads you to feel hungrier and pack on those extra calories.
Increased Cancer Risk
Research has shown that overindulgence in highly processed foods can increase the risk of cancer by approximately 12 percent. This risk is due to both the chemicals that are used for preservation and the cooking process of the preservation.
Bad Gut Health
Gut health is crucial for the complete digestive process and the overall health of the body. However, the added sugars in processed foods create problems in your gut that can interrupt your digestive process.
Reducing Processed Foods from your Diet
Completely removing processed foods from your diet is not a viable option. However, you can take these steps to lower your intake of processed foods:
Check out the nutritional label of the product – You must always check the label before buying any food, and make a smart choice accordingly. Labels of many unheard chemicals tend to be heavily processed foods.
Avoid highly processed meats – Opt for meats that are minimally processed, such as bacon and sausages.
Cook often – Opt for more home-cooked meals rather than eating out or ready-to-eat meals.
Completely cutting off highly processed food is not feasible, but you can always take steps to reduce the consumption of chemically processed foods. High intake of processed foods tends to create vitamin and mineral deficiencies in the body. That can have a negative impact on your physical as well as mental health.
Gradually replace processed foods with healthy alternatives. Start cooking often at home. You can also make your version of frozen food. Make these changes for a better lifestyle and health.
Poll : Did you know about harms of consuming highly processed foods?