Why are Processed Foods Bad for Your Health?
You have probably heard of them before and been told to stay away from them, but do you know what they are? What exactly is a processed food? Are they foods that come in a box? Is a food processed if it isn’t in its original form? When we began creating the Costa Vida menu, we had a goal to use whole, real ingredients. Today, our guests’ favorite flavors are created using natural foods, not chemically processed. So what exactly does that mean?
Any food that is not in its original form has technically been processed. Because we all can’t shop at a farmers’ market every day or grow our own produce, processed food has become a convenient part of our lives. Processed food can be healthy, such as pre-chopped vegetables, canned tuna, or roasted almonds. For products like pasteurized milk, processing makes them safer to consume. However, there is a difference between processed and chemically processed food. Chemically processed food has been altered with added sodium, artificial sweeteners, and preservatives. They are typically low in healthy fiber and whole grains and high in trans and saturated fats. These foods are perfectly fine to enjoy in moderation, but pose a serious threat to your health when consumed in excess.
To take the guesswork out of clean, natural eating, here are a few suggestions to remember during your next trip to the grocery store.
· Read Nutrition Labels: When in doubt, read the labels on packaging. Look for ingredients with long names that are hard to pronounce. These are usually added chemicals. Pay attention to the percentage of daily sodium, sugar, and fat in each serving.
· Skip the Frozen Section: Frozen fruit and vegetables are perfectly fine to eat, but frozen dinners, breakfasts, and sides usually have high amounts of added fat and sodium.
· Choose Natural Snacks: So many snack food options are processed, so a great way to cut down on your intake is to choose natural snacks. Munch on fresh fruit, salsa and veggies, or mixed nuts. Even with these foods, check the label to make sure there are no unhealthy added ingredients.
This post isn’t long enough to list every chemically processed food, and we are not here to tell you what not to eat. A healthy lifestyle is about balance. The fact is, your body processes natural foods best. Taking in whole, chemically unprocessed foods is a key part of a healthy, active lifestyle. When you enjoy real foods the majority of the time, your body can also process occasional indulgent meals and treats. Find the healthy balance that makes you happy!
Find more resources on processed foods here:
- 10 Processed Foods to Avoid, Healthline.com
- Eating Processed Foods, NHS.uk
- Eating Clean? 6 Processed Foods to Make at Home, EatingWell.com