Processed foods have been linked to numerous diseases, especially so-called ultra-processed foods. So If most of what you eat is packaged, you should make some changes to protect your health.
Let's see what are these foods that everyone talks about lately and why it is so harmful to ingest them in excess.
Table of Contents
Why are processed foods harmful?
Unlike fresh foods, processed foods are subjected to transformations that improve their flavor and shelf life. For this, salt, sugar, fat and artificial ingredients are used that stand out for their difficult-to-pronounce names.
Because of that, some processed foods can double the recommended daily amount of sodium, sugar, or fat. Instead, they are often poor in essential substances, such as fiber. Given that, in addition to being harmful, they are not very nutritious or directly "empty" calories, it is not surprising that health experts advise avoiding their consumption, or at least limiting it as much as possible. Among other things, processed foods are credited with increasing obesity.
The faster and easier it is to prepare it, the more treated the food tends to be and, consequently, the more harmful its consumption is to health. It is what is known as ultra-processed foods, foods that tempt you with their irresistible taste and, above all, because they are ready to eat instantly or it is only necessary to heat them in the microwave. Appetizers, processed meats and industrial pastries belong to this group.
Identifying processed foods is simple (they usually come packaged), but eliminating them from the diet is not so easy anymore. A good strategy is look on labels for the smallest amounts of fat, salt, or sugar in order to be able to choose the "healthiest" option. In many cases it is surprising how much difference there can be between two similar products.
Know processed foods
If you want to cut down on processed foods, the following are a great start. You are likely to consume one or more of them every day.
There is a wide variety of processed foods geared toward breakfast, including cereals, cookies, sliced bread, and margarine.
Some margarines contain trans fats, which are even more unhealthy than saturated fats. These types of fats increase the risk of heart disease. They could also have some kind of connection with cancer.
If you're healthy alternatives for your breakfast, consider oatmeal (great for get energy in the morning), berries, nuts, whole grain breads and fruits of all kinds, including the healthy avocado.
In general, watch the consumption of any meat that has been processed in some way. It is not advisable to abuse sausages, cold cuts or bacon.
Bacon is rich in sodium, saturated fat, and preservatives. Consequently, consuming excessively this smoked bacon can cause from headaches and overweight to hypertension and cancer.
Its ultra-fast and easy preparation has skyrocketed the popularity of instant noodles and other microwave foods. However, the drawbacks of these products outweigh the advantages. They are full of salt, which raises blood pressure, and their nutritional contribution is very low.
It is also advisable to avoid microwave popcorn. If you are one of those who does not enjoy a movie the same if it is not accompanied by a bowl of popcorn, consider popcorn kernels. They involve a bit more work, since you have to cook them yourself, but the effort is worth it, since the result is much healthier.
Ketchup is a tomato sauce, tomato being a food that cannot be missing from any diet considered healthy. The problem is that high amounts of sugar and salt are added. Consume it in moderation (exceptionally and in small amounts) or, better yet, make your own healthy ketchup for your burgers and fries.
Apparently it would be enough to make sure processed foods make up no more than 20 percent of your diet. In other words, 80 percent of what you eat every day should be fresh. If you get it, it would already be a great advance, since it is estimated that it is usual to consume fresh and processed in almost equal parts.
Finally, not all processed foods are harmful. Milk is an example, both animal and vegetable. Treatment is beneficial in both cases. Vitamins and minerals are added to soy or oat milk so that people who do not want or cannot drink cow's milk can also enjoy its properties.
Canned fruit, vegetables, legumes and fish would also be found on the "good" side of processed foods.. In fact, some frozen vegetables provide more vitamins than fresh ones.