Most of the foods are processed in one way or other. We get apples from trees, minced beef is ground in a meat grinder and when the cream is separated from the whole milk and churned we get butter. Even though all the foods are processed, there is a huge difference in mechanical processing of food and chemical processing of food. Even if we ground or mince any single ingredient without adding any chemicals, it is still said to be a real food.
Foods which are chemically processed and made using refined and artificial substances then they are said to be processed foods.
Processed food contain high sugar and fructose corn syrup
Both sugar and fructose corn syrup, which are enemies to our health is loaded in processed foods. Sugar gives a lot of energy and do not have any nutrients in it. High intake of sugar leads to few severe health complications like obesity, high cholesterol, heart diseases, diabetes, cancer and so on.
Though many people avoid high consumption of sugar in coffee and Tea but they are increasing the sugar levels due to processed foods and sweetened beverages.
Processed foods contain high amount of refined carbohydrates
Processed foods contain refined carbohydrates which have low fibre. They act same as sugar and leads to several changes in insulin levels in our body. These low glucose leads to cravings within few hours. This condition is also called sugar roller coaster. Which is common in people who follow high carb diet?
On few processed food packages and breakfast cereal packages contain whole grains written on them, but these whole grains are very harm full to health as they are pulverized into flour. Always prefer whole and single ingredients to get carbohydrates but not on these processed foods.
Processed foods make you addicted by manipulating brain
Processed foods contain chemical messengers called dopamine which makes you feel good even they do not contain any fibre and nutrients, whereas whole foods make us feel satisfied with their fibre, fats, proteins, water and also with carbohydrates. People feel cravings and get addicted to these processed foods due to artificial dopamine stimulators present in them. Few people who wanted to stop excess intake of sugar may also experience the fact that it is very difficult and almost impossible.
If we eat these foods regularly, we might need more food to feel full and satisfied. These junk foods act same as drugs like cocaine and nicotine and make us get addicted by affecting our reward centres in brain. Though the consequences are not severe as drugs but people get addicted and consume more food without control. These junk foods attack our brain and make us addicted and consume more.
Processed foods contain artificial ingredients
When you notice the ingredient label on these packaged and processed foods you may observe that you don’t know most of the ingredients, it is because they mostly contain artificial chemicals.
These are just few chemicals out of 6000 chemicals used in processed foods.
Processed foods contain the following
- Preservatives- these preservatives are chemicals used in foods to protect the food from rotting.
- Artificial flavour- these provide artificial taste and flavour to the food.
- Colorants- these provide particular colour to the food.
- Texturants- they help in giving the perfect texture to the food.
These processed foods contain several other chemicals which are not even mentioned on the label. For example the manufacturers mention artificial flavour and do not name the chemicals used to get the perfect flavour.
Processed foods contain very few nutrients
- When compared to whole and unprocessed foods, processed foods contain very low nutrients. In few cases to compensate the loss of nutrients, synthetic vitamins and minerals are added to the foods, though they are not as good as the nutrients present in whole foods.
- Whereas whole and real foods along with vitamins and minerals also contain much more which are beneficial for our health. Food we get from plants and animals contain thousands of other nutrients which are beneficial for our health.
- We get very less vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and other nutrients by consuming several processed foods.
Processed foods are low in fibre
Both soluble and fermentable fibre is very beneficial for our health, but the processed foods contain very less or no fibre as fibre is removed from the processed foods during the process.
Processed foods require time to digest
Manufacturers of these processed foods want their foods to have long shelf life and make their foods in a way that they are easily consumable. As these processed foods are easy to chew and swallow, we only use very little calories to digest and metabolise these processed foods. When compared to whole foods or unprocessed foods these processed foods are very easy to digest. Thus we eat more food in less time and also use few calories to metabolise them.
Processed foods are high in trans fat
- Processed foods contain very huge amount of unhealthy, cheap and hydrogenated oils which are converted into Tran’s fat. These hydrogenated oils or Tran’s fats are very dangerous and unhealthy substances for our body.
- The vegetable oils present in processed foods contain high amount of omega-6 fatty acids which leads to oxidation and inflammation in the body. These oils increase the risk of several health problems like heart diseases, high cholesterol and many more which can be deadly.
- To improve our health we can use butter, coconut oil, olive oil and so on to be healthy. To avoid these Trans fat one should avoid intake of processed foods.
- One should avoid intake of processed foods like chips, namkeens, canned fruits, cookies or burger and many more which increase the risk of several health complications like
- Cancer- the synthetic chemicals used in processed foods contain carcinogenic properties which have potential to cause cancers. According to a study people who eat processed meats are 67% at an increased risk of developing pancreatic cancer when compared to others who do not eat them.
- Obesity- processed foods contain high amount of salt, sugar, salt and have low nutrients and fibre. According to WHO (world health organization) these processed increase the risk of obesity and other chronic diseases.
- Heart diseases- processed foods contain TFA (Tran’s fatty acids) which increase the level of LDL and reduce the amount HDL which increase the risk of heart diseases.
Eat real food instead of processed food
Eating processed foods make us fat and sick, replacing processed food with real food is very beneficial to health and make us healthy and fit.