Anything processed lacks nutrients, wellness and health-this is the idea that most people have in their minds when it comes to processed foods. These foods are not blamed for one or two but many more side effects beyond obesity and cholesterol. The healthy folks hate it and the foodie loves it. These foods have earned a bad name and have established themselves as a bad omen in a healthy diet meal. Agreed, few foods exactly below to this category but there is more to processed foods than French fries, potato chips, hamburgers and ready-to-eat pizzas. How many of you know that homemade soup or whole-wheat bread is also a processed food that’s been worshipped by health folks worldwide? While most processed foods must stay far away from our daily diet there are some of them that can exist along with other foods in our diet. Its necessary to differentiate the suitable from the unsuitable ones.
Any food that undergoes processing in the form of cooking, canning, freezing, baking, fortifying, preserving or preparing must be called a processed food. The level of processing decides upon the health status of the food. It can be minimally processed such as cut vegetables or roasted nuts, processed maximum in order to retain nutrient values which includes canned tomatoes and frozen fruits, some foods that have extra ingredients added to improve taste, flavor and spiciness, ready-to-eat foods such as granolas that are comparatively more processed and pre-cooked meals such as frozen pizzas and microwaveable dinner that are maximum processed. There is a detailed list of the different foods that belong to different levels of processing along with their effects on the body elaborated at www.firsteatright.com.
Catch Hold of the Cations of Processed Foods
Milk and juices fortified with calcium and vitamin D are also processed foods and we look forward to including these staples in our diet for improved nutrition. Realizing that some processed foods add more value to your meal and making space to accommodate them helps you retain health, add more wellness and improve strength. Your breakfast cereals have the potential to add more fiber, canned fruits replace the absence of certain seasonal fruits and even pre-cut veggies are a great option for people in this busy world. The very basis of avoiding the inclusion of more processed foods in your meal plan is to cook your meals at home, mostly from scratch and include whole foods such as fresh fruits, veggies, whole grains and fiber.
Avoid the Anions of Processed Foods
While some of the foods (such as the ones mentioned above) are good on the body there are some others that might contain more of added sugars, salt and cholesterol making the whole point of eating go in vain except for the taste of the food (and this cannot be valued every time we eat something).
Fruits contain natural sugars and these are essential for the body for providing it with energy. But most processed foods contain added sugars that aren’t present only in the sweets prepared but almost in every food right from your breads, pasta sauces and cereal to low-fat foods to improve their taste. It is advisable to go through a product’s ingredient list and look for added sugars mentioned under any form (as corn syrup, maple syrup, brown sugar, honey, fruit juice extract etc.) among the first two or three ingredients.
Salt is another major enemy that shows its solid presence in processed foods as this is required to increase shelf-life of these foods. Many of the canned veggies, soups and sauces have abundant salt in them. Hence, it is necessary to look for foods which state no salt added, low-sodium or reduced-sodium to avoid as much salt as possible from processed foods.
Ideally, ensure that the food you eat is high in nutrients and low in sugars, salt and fats which once again makes you revisit the concept of a well-balanced meal.
AVOID FRAUD. EAT SMART.
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Dietitian & Nutritionist Dr. Nafeesa Imteyaz.