What is your idea of a “processed food”? It really is any food that
has been altered from its natural state. So, even washing an apple
before you eat it technically makes it “processed”! There are many
reasons foods are processed: to ensure safety, to aide in preparation
and storage, to improve qualities like flavor and looks.
Foods can be lightly to highly processed. There is a big difference
between a washed apple and a container of ready-made macaroni and
cheese. Although highly processed foods can make life easier, they
often contain many added ingredients: sugar, salt, preservatives,
flavorings and colors. Too much added sugar can play a role in weight
gain. Too much sodium can affect blood pressure. For some people,
other additives can cause allergies.
Be more aware of what
you eat! Look at your grocery cart. Does it contain a large
percentage of highly processed foods like lunch meat, meals in a box,
and instant snacks? How many empty fast food bags are in the trash
can of your car? Are you surprised by what you find?
Look at the ingredient list on food labels when you shop. You might
be shocked to find how much sugar is in foods that you would not even
think of as sweet! Choose foods with the least amount of sugar, fat,
sodium and added ingredients you don’t want or really need. There are
brand differences; compare and be a smart shopper! Choosing foods
closest to their natural state helps you avoid additives you don’t
need or want.
Foods found in the grocery store are safe for us to eat but we are
learning they might not all be the best choices for health,
especially on a daily basis. Want to learn more? Visit
our OSF Dieticians on the web!