The definition of “processed food” is controversial. Nearly all the food at grocery stores is subject to some processing: It’s pasteurized, vacuum sealed, cooked, frozen, fortified, and mixed with preservatives and flavor enhancers. Some of these processes can change its nutritional qualities. And some studies have found associations between processed diets and increased risk of obesity, cancer, and even earlier death, but none has shown a causal link, as previously noted. Here Roman Tomey, NaturalNews.com, reflects on steps to cut down on intake of processed food:
“Processed foods refer to foods that have been altered from their original state through preparation or preservation. Not all processed foods are bad, as some only undergo minimal processing and retain most of their nutrients. However, heavily processed foods can contribute very little in terms of nutrition; if anything, they’re actually full of harmful chemicals.
Unfortunately, heavily processed foods often make up a huge portion of people’s diets. The nutrients they lose during processing are replaced by manufacturers with salt, sugar and fat, making them unhealthy. Furthermore, these processed foods contain chemical additives and preservatives to enhance their taste and extend their shelf life.
Some people may find it difficult to reduce their consumption of processed foods due to limited access to fresh produce. Here are some realistic steps to follow so you can cut back on unhealthy, overly processed foods.
Choose whole grain products instead of refined grains
Grains are typically comprised of three components – the bran, endosperm and germ. The hard, outer bran contains fiber, minerals and antioxidants while the inner germ contains vitamins, minerals, protein and plant compounds. Refined grains remove the bran and germ when processing, leaving the carbohydrate-rich endosperm behind.
The refining process unfortunately removes the nutritious parts of the grain. Whole grain products contain higher amounts of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants because they retain the bran and germ. The higher fiber content of whole grain products helps in digestion and satiety. These also lower the risk of certain conditions such as stroke, heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
Brown rice acts as a more filling replacement for white rice. Whole wheat breads, pasta and tortillas can also pave the way for healthier eating.”
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