One of the biggest challenges in today’s fast-paced society is making the best healthy food choices for our families. Processed foods are a part of our everyday life; however, there are many dangers associated with processed foods that can affect your overall health so you will want to make the best food choices from what is readily available. At the same time, you will want to limit your exposure to high numbers of refined ingredients found in many products. A good rule of thumb is “Less is better” when choosing what food to bring home to your family.
First, let’s go over the different levels or types of processed foods:
Type One: Unprocessed or Minimally Processed
he processing of these foods does not change the nutritional properties of the food. This type of food would include pre-washed salads, washed and waxed apples, organic peanut butter, or organic tomato sauce to name a few. These food products contain the least amount of ingredients.
Type Two: Processed Culinary or Food Industry Ingredients
These ingredients are lab-processed and provide little nutritional value, yet contain an extremely high caloric content. They are added to many Type One foods to increase their shelf-life, resist bacteria and mold, increase convenience, and make the food more desirable by design. Many of these lab foods alter our brain chemistry creating food addiction as well as contributing to other cognitive impairments.
Processed culinary ingredients include Canola oil, other highly processed fats, High-fructose corn syrup, artificial colors, artificial flavors, synthetic vitamin & mineral replacements, sugar (unless it says “raw sugar”), Sugar beets, MSG, Aspartame, flours, starches, and salt (salt has no calories, but is a major contributor to hypertension). The products in this category would contain ingredients that you recognize, as well as some formulations that you do not keep in your pantries such as Soy protein isolate, cyclodextrin, erythritol, mannitol, and threonine.
Type Three: Highly or Ultra-processed food products
These foods are created by combining ingredients from Type Two. Rarely are their traces of Type One foods in highly processed foods. Often these foods have over 25 Type Two ingredients listed. A few examples of ultra-processed foods are Oreo Cakesters, Chez whiz, Nutra-grain cereal bars, Lunchables, and over 100 ingredients that can be found in KFC’s Chicken Pot Pie.
Many independent lab studies have shown that Type Two processed food ingredients pose many serious health risks. Since processed foods are high in calories as well as being very addictive, obesity and obesity-related diseases and conditions such as diabetes (which has been linked to HFCS or High Fructose Corn Syrup) have skyrocketed since the 1980s.
Cancer has been associated with artificial sweeteners such as Aspartame which is the lab-extracted feces of the E-coli bacteria. Cognitive impairments have been linked to both artificial sweeteners and artificial colorings found in processed food.
So when shopping for your family meals, keep in mind to look for food and drinks that have the least amount of processed food ingredients on the label. Also, remember to stay away from certain ingredients that have been proven to cause significant health problems. These guidelines will help you on your journey to a healthier lifestyle.