You may have heard that processed foods are bad for you. Every day we hear news about a food we thought was safe to eat that actually isn’t safe at all. For example, are eggs, butter and full-fat milk good for us? And what is processed food? If I chop up some onions in a food processor, do they become processed food? What if a food factory chops the onions? In many cases, the term processed food can also refer to foods that are good for you? Frozen vegetables, multi-grain bread, and Greek yogurt are all considered processed foods.
What is processed food?
The term ‘processed food’ describes any food that has been prepared or changed from its natural state, usually for safety reasons or convenience. So, guess what? If you’re not eating it straight out of the ground or right after it was slaughtered… your food was probably processed in some way.
“While some processed foods should be consumed with caution, many actually have a place in a balanced diet.”
The big problem with heavily processed foods such as Chips, sodas, and frozen pizzas is the added fat, sugar, and salt. These foods are ultra-processed. A significant amount of sugar is added to many of them, which essentially makes them dangerous to eat or drink.
One day in the not too distant future these foods might be required to have warning signs on their packages similar to the ones on today’s cigarette packs. Science has begun finding strong links between too much sugar and cancer.
“The current findings, presented Tuesday at the Experimental Biology 2016 meeting in San Diego, suggest that reducing the amount of sugary beverages and processed lunch foods consumed can decrease the risk for prostate and breast cancers.”
What type of diet should we eat to live a happy, healthy, long life? An excellent start is to avoid eating ultra-processed foods. Apply the rule; if you have to open a plastic bag to eat it, it’s probably ultra-processed. Stay away from foods you have to pop open plastic bags to eat. Always read the ingredients listed on the packaging the food came in and eat mostly plants, not too much. The makers of the old ice cream commercial were right when they told us; if you can’t pronounce the names of the ingredients that are listed on the carton, you probably shouldn’t eat it. I shouldn’t have to be a chemical engineer to know what’s in my food.
See you soon. Be careful out there.