Processed foods are those foods that have been completely altered from their natural state. They have been changed in order to enhance their shelf life, texture, flavour or taste. It is important to know what we are eating and food labels can provide a wide range of information to help consumers make good food choices.
1. By reading the ingredients, you will get a clearer picture of what the food contains. If what you are purchasing has a long list of ingredients that are unfamiliar or unknown, or are difficult to pronounce, the chances are, it is not made with real food and is highly processed;
2. By increasing your consumption of whole foods such as fruits and vegetables, the consumption of processed foods are naturally decreased and your consumption of nutrients is increased;
3. Be mindful of ingredients. The clue is in the amount of ingredients in the product. Why would it take over 15 ingredients to make bread when all you need is just a handful?
4. Do not always believe marketing. Look at the ingredients to make sure it is really natural and healthful!
5. High fructose corn syrup, MSG, trans fats are clear markers for a highly processed food;
6. Avoid take away foods such as French fries, hamburgers and pizza. They are all bursting with highly processed items in the oils, cheese and even the meat has processed products in the preparation of it. The kid’s menu very often consists of hot chips, nuggets and processed white pasta. Instead, make a meal up by ordering a baked potato and vegetables;
7. By making our own ‘junk foods’ such as cakes, muffins, biscuits, you are decreasing the consumption of processed foods as you prepare it with real butter, eggs (preferably organic) etc rather than trans fats, preservatives and colour.
The unhealthy, processed foods are those foods that need to be avoided. They are characteristically high in trans fats, sodium and sugars.
The following are examples of these foods:
References: 1. Larsson SC, Wolk A. "Meat consumption and risk of colorectal cancer: A meta-analysis of prospective studies." Int J Cancer. 2006 Dec 1;119(11):2657-64.
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