Health and Nutrition: Avoid Processed Food
Over the next few weeks I’m going to be writing articles on health and nutrition. These of course will be tied in with juicing since I’m a strong proponent of integrating juicing into a healthy lifestyle.
What is processed food? Processed food is food found in stores that has been prepared and stored for consumers. Products like canned or frozen foods are processed foods. White bread and even some whole wheat bread is considered processed food. Condiments like ketchup, barbeque sauce and salad dressings are processed foods and of course fast food establishments serve processed foods. Processed foods are products that have been cooked or altered from their natural state so they can be stored long term resulting in nutrient deficient food.
One of the first things I did years ago was to quit drinking soda pop. This included diet soda. I stopped cola or anything that is a sugary processed drink. My kids helped me with that. They started this healthy change first and I followed. Thank goodness for smart children!
The study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition discovered some frightening facts that should make us all swear off diet drinks and products.
Diet sodas raised the risk of diabetes more than sugar-sweetened sodas!
Women who drank one 12-ounce diet soda had a 33 percent increased risk of type 2 diabetes and women who drank one 20-ounce soda had a 66 percent increased risk.
Women who drank diet sodas drank twice as much as those who drank sugar- sweetened sodas because artificial sweeteners are more addictive and are hundreds to thousands of times sweeter than regular sugar.
The average diet soda drinker consumes 3 diet drinks a day.
Processed Food is Unhealthy
When food is processed, nutrients are lost, including fiber. Some products may be fortified or enriched to compensate for the lost nutrients, but fiber is not always added back to foods and the fortification or enrichment is not as beneficial as the natural whole food.
Sodium, added sugars and/or fat may be added during processing. Avoid anything loaded with sodium, sugar, fats, artificial flavoring, chemicals and additives. Read the Nutrition Facts Label and Ingredient List when buying processed foods. You may be surprised by the amount of sodium and sugar. Processed foods are linked to obesity, heart disease, type 2 diabetes and other illnesses. Food processing may also alter food in ways that might increase the risk of cancer. Minimize your consumption of processed food and of course, fast food.
Here are a few to stay away from:
- Frozen dinners
- Hot dogs
- Gummy candy
- Chips (read the label)
- Soda pop
5 Condiments to avoid or use less of
- Mayonnaise – Commercially prepared mayonnaise is loaded with fats.
- Sour Cream – Commercially prepared sour cream contains lots of fillers and preservatives.
- Ranch Dressing – Read the label. Much of what is on the label bears little resemblance to food.
- Ketchup – If you use commercially prepared ketchup you are getting a lot of high fructose corn syrup which quickly builds your daily sugar intake.
- Barbeque Sauce and Steak Sauce – Again, not much that goes into these sauces can be identified as real food.
Is All Processed Food Unhealthy?
Generally speaking, no. Here are a few that technically are processed, but otherwise nutritious:
- 100% whole grain, nuts, barley, quinoa
- Canned beans
- Frozen fruit and vegetables
- Nut butter without added sugar or sodium
- Veggie burgers
- Frozen wild salmon
- Plain greek yogurt
- 100% whole grain bread
What About Juicing?
I don’t consider fresh fruit and vegetable juice to be processed. I use fresh fruits and vegetables from the supermarket, or my garden. I don’t add anything to my juices unless it’s natural and I don’t store my juices for very long. I’ve found juicing to be very healthy and it helps me to get more fresh fruits and vegetables in my diet.
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