What is Processed Food, What Processed Foods to Avoid

Do you want to clean up your dietary act by reducing (or eliminating) the consumption of processed foods? To do so you might be asking yourself what is processed food? This health blurb assists in answering that question and carries on about what processed foods to avoid.

Processed food means food has been subject to processing. Processing is some sort of change to a raw food, such as canning, cooking, freezing, dehydrating or milling. Raw is the form an edible food is in right out of the field (growth environment). Consuming plants raw is very common, but animal produced foods not so much because many undergo some deliberate change before eaten.

To be successful in the quest in modifying your dietary lifestyle you may need to adjust your taste and convenience expectations. Eating all natural ingredients definitely tastes different, but your palate will adapt. In the meantime, try thinking nutrients instead of obsessing over pleasure while you eat. And numerous edible items that are only lightly or not processed tend to be more perishable, so some forethought is in order to avoid wasting precious nourishment. (It’s estimated 40% of food gets thrown away!)

Realistically, processed foods are pervasive in the typical American diet. But in your pursuit of consuming a healthier diet, not all processing needs to be avoided for a cleaner intake. Instead, consider assessing food based on the extent its been processed. Minimum is in, heavy is out.

So how do you know the difference? Honestly, it’s not always easy to determine. However, not packaged foods from the produce section probably went through little, if any, processing. Otherwise, there are some key indicators to help make a decision.

Start by examining the list of ingredients. Presume food has been heavily processed if this list is long and contains words you have a hard time pronouncing. Many additives and preservatives fall into this category, for example food coloring, butylated hydroxytoluene, aspartame, nitrites and sulfites. Relative to this list think less is best.

Sometimes processing is done for reasons of safety, like removing toxins and eliminating harbored pathogens that cause food borne illnesses. Great. Yet adding flavor and texture does not typically advance the safety of a food.

Two other aspects worth consideration are freezing and canning. If whats in the package or can looks similar to freshly grown, then probably not over processed. In contrast, those ready made meals in the freezer section often are. Avoiding processed foods from the freezer or can section is simple, do your own mixing and cooking.

Another processing method requiring healthy attention is that done with fats, specifically when unsaturated is converted to hydrogenated. Why it’s done? To change a liquid into a solid and add to shelf life. Although this alteration may increase profits for the seller, research indicates risk of heart disease escalates for the consumer. (Harm to your health stems from rise in LDL and drop in HDL cholesterol after consumption.) Good news is you can completely avoid processed foods having hydrogenated fatty acids in them since their amount is separately listed on food labels as trans fat. So get in the habit of reading those labels!

Theoretically your body will function better without consuming heavily processed foods, but complete avoidance is definitely a challenge. Yet offering your body more of what it needs and less of what it doesn’t makes it well worth the effort.

A healthy tip is scale back socializing that entails eating around a unknowingly prepared table of food (e.g. in a restaurant). Suggested alternative for interacting is moving to the beat of conversation.

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