Processed food has a bad reputation as a diet saboteur. It’s blamed for our nation’s obesity epidemic, high blood pressure, and the rise of Type 2 diabetes. But processed food is more than boxed macaroni and cheese, potato chips and drive-thru hamburgers. It ma be a surprise to learn that whole-wheat bread, homemade soup or a chopped apple also are considered as processed foods.
Some processed foods should be consumed with caution but there are a few that have a place in a balanced diet. So how do we sort our foods? Psst.ph will teach you a few tricks to properly sort out your food. Read on…
“Processed food includes any food that has been purposely changed in some way prior to consumption,” says Torey Armul, MS, RD, a spokesperson for the American Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. “It includes food that has been cooked, canned, frozen, packaged or preparing in different ways.”
White bread is considered refined since most of the healthy fiber has been removed during the processing. What most of us do not know is that each time we cook, bake or prepare food, we’re processing food already.
The trick is to familiarize yourself with the Nutrition Facts Label and ingredient list. Do more cooking and food prep at home to maximize control over the food processing.
Eating processed food in moderation is fine, but consumers should be on the lookout for these ingredients:
When a regular fat like corn, soybean, or palm oil is blasted with hydrogen and turned into solid, it becomes trans fat. Trans fat are anti-nutrients that helps packaged food to stay “fresh”, meaning that the food can sit on the grocery shelf for years without ever getting stale or rotting. Eating junk food with trans fats raises your “bad” LDL cholesterol and triglycerides and lowers your “good” HDL. These fats also increase your risk of blood clots and heart attack. Avoid palm oil and other trans fats like a plague, kiss fried foods goodbye too, since they’re usually fried in one of these freakish trans-fatty oils.
Pasta, White Flour, Rice and Bread
When a whole grain is refined, most of its nutrients are sucked out in an effort to extend its shelf life. Both the bran and germ are removed, and therefore all the fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Because these stripped down, refined grains are devoid of fiber and other nutrients, they’re also easy to digest. They send your blood sugar and insulin skyrocketing, which can lead to all sorts of problems. Replace processed grains with whole grains like brown or wild rice, whole-wheat breads and pastas, barley and oatmeal.
High Fructose Corn Syrup
The evil king of all refined grains is high fructose corn syrup. The amount of refined sugar we consume has declined over the past 40 years, but we’re consuming almost 20 times as much high fructose corn syrup. It’s practically in EVERYTHING WE EAT. It increases trigylcerides, boosts fat-storing hormones, and drives people to overeat and gain weight. It’s time to adopt to a zero-tolerance policy, and steer clear of this sweet “poison.”
If you’re diabetic, then you must be using artificial sweeteners on your coffee or tea. But little did you know that aspartame (NutraSweet, Equal), saccharin (Sweet ‘N Low), and sucralose (Splenda) may be even harder on our metabolic systems than plain old sugar? These supposedly diet-friendly sweeteners may actually be doing more harm than good. Studies suggest that artificial sweeteners trick the brain into forgetting that sweetness means extra calories, making people keep eating sweet treats without abandon. Nip in the bud. Scan ingredient labels and ban all artificial sweeteners from entering our mouth. A stevia plant (yes, the actual leaf) is a whole lot better if you really wanted something to sweeten your drink naturally.
The artificial colors blue 1 and 2, allura red, green 3, yellow 6 have been linked to thyroid, adrenal, bladder, kidney, and brain cancers. Always seek out foods with the fewest artificial chemicals. especially when you’re shopping for your kids. Look for color-free medications and natural food products that don’t contain artificial colors like these.
MSG (Monosodium Glutamate)
Monosodium glutamate is a processed “flavor enhancer.” While glutamates are present in some natural foods, such as meat and cheese (also known as “umami”), the ones exploited by the processed-foods industry are separated from their host proteins through hydrolysis. Don’t fall prey to chemical flavor enhancing. Just play it safe and enjoy your food naturally.