Processed food is a food item that has a series of mechanical or chemical operations performed on it to change or preserve it.
Frequent consumption of unhealthy processed food increases calorie intake without providing any nutrients, vitamins and minerals.
People who consume more processed foods have a greater risk of developing obesity, hypertension and high blood sugar levels, which can lead to heart disease and diabetes.
Apart from being non-nutritious, processed foods also contain food additives. Food additives consumed beyond the permissible limit may have an adverse effect on your health.
Highly processed foods often contain:
1) Preservatives : Chemicals that prevent the food from rotting.
2) Colourants: Chemicals that are used to give the food a specific color.
3) Flavorants : Chemicals that give the food a particular flavour.
4) Texturants: Chemicals that give a particular texture.
Processed foods can contain many additional chemicals that aren’t even listed on the label. For example – if you see “artificial flavour” on an ingredients list, it could mean that there are 10 or more additional chemicals that are blended in to give a specific flavour.
Processed foods are usually loaded with added sugar or High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS).
Sugar is regarded as “empty calories”, as it has no essential nutrients, but a large amount of energy. Sugar, when consumed in excess, is seriously harmful. It can lead to insulin resistance, high triglycerides, increased levels of harmful cholesterol and increased fat accumulation in the liver. Excessive sugar consumption is strongly associated with the increased risk of developing heart disease, diabetes, obesity and cancer. Sugar is very unhealthy and can have serious adverse effects on metabolism when consumed in excess.
The carbohydrates you find in processed foods are usually refined, “simple” carbohydrates.
These lead to rapid spikes in blood sugar and insulin levels and cause negative health effects.
Processed foods are often low in Fibres
Because it is lost or intentionally removed during processing. Fibres often act as prebiotics to the beneficial bacteria, which actually helps to maintain your gut health.
Processed foods are often high in Trans fats
It causes an increased level of bad cholesterol (HDL) and lower the level of good cholesterol (LDL). This increases the likelihood of developing heart disease.
In the coming years, with larger constraints on time at home, demand for processed food is certain to increase. Therefore, it is necessary to ensure that the intake of a nutritionally balanced diet, is not compromised with the unwise intake of processed foods. Processed vegetables, fruits or animal product available in the market are no match to nutrients rich fresh vegetables and fruits. (Also read –> Is Margarine Healthy?)
P.S. When the body is functioning at its best, you will feel great and be happy.
(Read more about Atherogenic Foods – That Really Causes Increased Cardiovascular Risk)