How Processed Foods Affect Your Health

Not all processed foods are bad. Some of it is healthy. The actual food and how it’s processed makes a difference in how it will affect your health. For instance, frozen vegetables are processed. They’re washed, which is a way of processing. They normally are frozen close to the field, so there’s no transportation. That means they can fully ripen and immediately washed and frozen they’re frozen. If they’re vegetables, they are also blanched before freezing. The process of freezing them quickly after they ripen means they probably have more nutrients than fresh fruits and vegetables on the store shelf.

Highly processed foods are totally different.

If you read labels, you probably notice some words that look straight out of a chemistry lab or tons of different types of sugar. Food with added sugar isn’t healthy, especially the type with HFCS—high fructose corn syrup. HFCS is artificially created and chemically different than natural sugar. It metabolizes differently than the glucose of regular sugar. Glucose is metabolized by every cell, but fructose is only metabolized in the liver. In animal studies, lab animals fed high amounts of fructose developed fatty liver disease and cirrhosis. It may contribute to hypertension, cause damage to the brain and cause weight gain, since it’s in just about all highly processed foods.

There are negatives and positives to processing.

Cooking some foods make them healthier, but there are advantages to raw fruits and vegetables. If you cook tomatoes, it destroys the vitamin C, but it also enhances the lycopene, a powerful antioxidant. If you process wheat or grain by milling, you remove the bran and germ, leaving just the endosperm. The bran has fiber and the germ is rich in nutrients, like vitamins, healthy fat and protein. All that’s left is the endosperm, which is starch. That endosperm is bleached for flour, so you get an absence of nutrients and chemicals with white flour. That type of processing makes it unhealthy. Focus on whole grains.

Processed food contains chemicals and is often low in nutrition.

Many of the snack foods don’t spoil easily, since they’re filled with preservatives that keep them fresh. There’s a joke about Twinkies lasting for centuries and still tasting fresh. Of the 37 ingredients, there are five you can identify as regular food. Those are salt, water, sugar, flour and egg. It has mostly chemicals and man-made ingredients, including trans fats. Highly processed meats, like canned meat, hot dogs, cured ham and bacon are another area where additives and nitrates that affect your health are found.

  • Read labels. If you’re buying peanut butter, there should be one ingredient, peanuts, not several, which includes sugar. Canned goods can be healthy, but again, read the label for additives and sugar.
  • Highly processed food and ultra-processed food, like snacks, often have chemical changes to extend the shelf life. What they don’t have is fiber and nutrients. Fiber helps you feel fuller and keeps your blood glucose level.
  • Processed foods sometimes aren’t really food, but soft drinks and juices. They add calories without the fiber to make you feel full. Even diet soft drinks have shown to increase your belly fat.
  • Some processed food goes through chemical changes, making them something completely different than their original form. These chemical changes make it difficult for the body to digest the food and can cause harm.

For more information, contact us today at Habitat Health & Fitness

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