Processed food and health should not even be uttered in the same breath. These foods have inched their way steadily into our diets and we are consuming them without even realizing the threats they pose to our health. You may rigorously wrench yourself away from deep-fried foods, fast foods and the lot. But did you know that your morning cereals, instant noodles and even those harmless packaged popcorn come under the category of processed foods?
Why should processed foods not find a place in your refrigerator?
They contain Sugars
Most processed foods are stuffed with sugars or fructose corn syrup. These are empty calories which mean that they do not provide any nutrients to your body. Eating them can adversely affect your metabolism that could later lead to obesity. Long-term consumption may even make you vulnerable to heart disorders, diabetes and cancer.
They will make you over-eat
Processed foods are engineered for binge eating. Human beings by nature are drawn towards sweet and salty foods because traditionally these foods are high in energy and energy is something we need for our survival process. Processed food manufacturers capitalize on this evolutionary trend and make a major chunk of their products either sweet or salty. These products are so enticing to the brain that they overpower defence mechanisms in the brain that inhibit over-eating. The result is you will be powerless to stop yourself from gorging on unhealthy foods.
Processed foods contain refined carbohydrates
All processed foods contain plenty of refined carbs. These simple carbs are instantly metabolized by the body, which means you will start feeling hungry soon after you eat processed food items. This again increases your likelihood of becoming obese.
Moreover, refined carbohydrates spike blood sugar level. But it will rapidly dwindle a little later. This creates a sugar rollercoaster effect. This ups your risk of becoming insulin resistant which could lead to diabetes.
Even the foods that carry labels like ‘whole wheat’ and ‘whole grains’ are no better. These grains are ground to a fine powder which is as harmful as refined flour.
They contain little to no fibres
Our metabolism requires fibres. The friendly bacteria in our guts thrive and multiply when we consume a fibre-rich diet. These bacteria keep our metabolism going. Fibres also restrict absorption of carbohydrates which means you will feel full for a long time after consuming a fibrous meal. Soluble fibres can also act as a remedy for constipation.
Processed foods are devoid of fibres. So if your meal plans comprise solely of processed foods, you will not be able to derive the benefits of fibres.
They often contain loads of transfats
Fast foods contain transfats which contain large amounts of Omega 6 fatty acids. They can cause oxidation and inflammation in your body and raise your risk of contracting heart diseases.
A list of processed foods to avoid
- Sweetened drinks
- Potato chips
- Dried pasta
- Double skimmed milk
- Commercial cheese
- Cookies, pastries and white bread – basically most baked products that you buy from a store
- Vegetable oils such as soybean oil, olive oil
- All foods with the label ‘gluten-free’ because they are put through a long chemical procedure to remove glutens
Not all is lost. Healthy processed foods are also available, so you can replace the unhealthy versions with healthier alternatives. Let’s take a look at some of them –
- Butter derived from peanuts or any other nuts
- Frozen vegetables and fruits
- Canned beans
- Tomato sauce
- Almond milk (non-sweetened)
- Organic jelly
- Dark chocolate
Adhering to a strictly healthy diet can be tedious. Reward yourself with junk food once in a while. But getting into the habit of consuming them daily can only spell disaster for your health.