The Truth about Processed Foods And Some Healthy Shopping Tips

By Helen Holmes on July 30, 2012

Science has made our lives so much easier, even when it comes to eating. These days, preparing meals is as easy as heating food in a microwave or frying some nuggets and sausages. But the convenience that science brings comes with risks too. We have heard about processed foods and how they affect our health. Good thing, there are several ways to balance the pros and cons.

What are Processed Foods?

Processed foods are those that have been changed or altered from their natural state for different purposes. These include lengthening the food’s life shelf and enhancing its flavour. There are various methods used to process goods such as refrigeration, salting, dehydration, and aseptic processing.

Are they really bad for the health?

Many of us think that processed foods are bad. Well, this isn’t actually true. There are some instances when processing foods are good. In fact, it may even make the food more nutritious. For instance, milk is better consumed when processed (through pasteurisation) because it takes away the bacteria and other harmful microorganisms that cause spoilage. Vegetables and fruits, to retain their vitamins and minerals, are stored in the refrigerator. These days, processed juice is fortified with fibre, calcium and other nutrients that make them healthier.

However, there are processed foods that can be really bad for your health. They are bad because they contain some ingredients that are known to cause various diseases. Examples of preservatives that you should avoid are trans-fats, saturated fats, and excessive amounts of sodium and sugar. Processed foods that you may want to avoid are canned goods, breads and pastas made from fine flour, high-calorie snacks like crisps and sweets, fried fish fingers and chicken nuggets, processed meats like bologna, sausage, hotdog, ham, and so on.

How do you avoid processed foods?

If you used to shop in the supermarket, you’re likely to pick those that contain harmful preservatives. Below are some tips to help you decide which grocery item to pick:

·         Read the ingredients. By doing this, you’ll get to know whether the processed food contains unhealthy preservatives or chemicals. If you find too many unfamiliar names of ingredients that are on the list, it’s likely that the food is highly processed. MSG, high fructose corn syrup, and trans fats are ingredients you should watch out for.

·         Skip the ads. In most cases, what you see in TV commercials are only hypes. Carefully examine the ingredients to be sure that what you’re eating is really healthy.

·         Set aside convenience. When you’re in a rush, it’s easy to place a pre-packed meal in the microwave. But pizzas, hamburgers, chips, and other take-away foods don’t have enough nutrients and are full of preservatives. They’re also high in fats.

·         Eat fresh fruits and vegetables. You can buy them from local farmers’ market. Nothing beats the freshly harvested fruits and veggies. You can search the web for unique recipes that will improve your dining experience.

 

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