Why do people eat processed foods

Are Processed Foods Always Unhealthy?

When we think of processed foods, things like candy or fast food spring to mind. But did you know that olive oil, Greek yogurt and green tea are also processed foods? In fact, the term covers a lot: from frozen fruit to microwave popcorn. That is why a distinction is made between lightly and heavily processed foods. Because the way in which the various foods are prepared has a major impact on how healthy your food is in the end.

Recent research shows that there is a link between heart disease and the consumption of overly processed foods. Eating four or more servings daily can increase mortality by 62%. Diet without processed foods is hardly possible these days.

In this post, we'll introduce you to what processed foods are, how you can tell the difference between the processing levels, and how you can put together a healthy diet.

What are processed foods?

The term “processed” for a food simply means that it was changed before it was consumed. So the food is not sold in its original form. This can be the case, for example, when a fresh salad is washed and packaged. Or minced meat is processed into a frozen hamburger patty. So you can see that the type and degree of processing differs noticeably. Some processed foods are considered less healthy because they contain additives. Among other things, sugar, salt, flavor enhancers or other preservatives. These additives are intended to make the food last longer.

How are industrially processed foods rated

Food can also be upgraded through processing. Nutrients are added to them. For example, milk is fortified with extra calcium. Or when vegetables are frozen in the perfect state of ripeness in order to preserve the maximum nutritional value. Other foods, on the other hand, are so heavily processed that they hardly resemble the original ingredients. For example soft drinks with an orange flavor or processed cheese.

Low processed foods

These foods are only slightly changed. They largely retain their nutritional value. They may be pasteurized, frozen, washed or vacuum packed. These include prepared fruits, frozen vegetables, canned tuna, tofu and roasted nuts.

Medium processed foods

Such foods often contain a number of other ingredients. For example salt, sugar, spices and oils. This can affect the nutritional value, but it doesn't completely destroy it. Medium-processed foods are, for example, pasta sauces from the jar, salad dressings, fruit yoghurts and baking mixes.

Heavily processed foods

Highly processed foods have gone through many different procedures. They mostly contain a variety of preservatives and additives. This greatly reduces their nutritional value. This group includes many frozen and microwave meals, sweets, carbonated drinks, and certain sausages.

Can I eat a balanced diet with processed foods?

A busy schedule, family, responsibility of all kinds: finished and half-finished meals can save a lot of time in family life. Because often there is no way to cook everything fresh from scratch. It can then happen that you do not choose the healthiest option. It's best to first check the label to see if the processed food is safe for a nutritious diet. There you can see which substances have been added and how much salt and sugar it contains. If in doubt, you can clarify with a nutritionist what they recommend for your diet and lifestyle.

Pay particular attention to preservatives and so-called trans fats. If you're using ready-made meals, fresh meals are a better choice than frozen ones. Choose a fresh vegetable side dish or fresh fruit for dessert. Such small changes can make a big difference in the long run. You get all the vitamins your body needs. Even if you have a busy schedule.

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