Processed Foods is the altering of food in anyway. It can be cooked, baked, canned or packaged. They are changed in nutritional composition for preservation and preparation. Although buying your own fresh produce and cooking from scratch is the most healthiest choice. But the increasing daily chores, make this little accomplishment difficult. Long working hours, working parents, make it almost impossible to put home cooked special food on the table every day. This is where processed food come in.
They are convenient, have a longer shelf life and easily available at every store and supermarket. In fact its easier to grab a box of frozen or canned vegetables and fruits then get fresh ones. Some of the processed food examples are cheese, milk, cookies, cereals, instant noodles, ketchup and etc. Different techniques are used to prepare processed food. It might be simple cleaning, cutting and packing. Or processing at higher level which includes addition of preservatives and additives.
Additives such as salt and fat ensure food’s consumption. Whereas the preservative increase the shelf life. the ingredients to be watched out in processed foods are mainly dextrose, hydrogenated oil, trans fats and maltose. These extra, added sodium and sugar provide twice the recommended quantity in our diets. Again as much as sodium is essential for our body, excess amounts are bad for our health. Similarly, sugar, taken in elevated amounts may lead to heart complications, obesity and diabetes.
Some of the most commonly used processed foods include:
These cereal bars, though may sound healthy but their high sugar content doesn’t make them one.
You may want to instead try home cooks – Bushra Siddiqui’s Healthy Bakes granola bars, available in Pakistan. They ca be ordered and delivered anywhere in the country.
The high salt content and the chemicals found in the bag, may be a concern. Perfluoroalkyls found in microwave popcorn bags have been associated with certain health problems. It is a toxic substance.
You may want to instead switch to buying corn kernels and popping them yourself.
Unlike their name, they contain just trace amounts of actual fruits and more sweeteners. These, when consumed in large amounts may lead to weight gain and increased risk of diabetes.
You may want to instead have fresh fruits instead of candied ones. Fruits and vegetables consumed fresh have their own incomparable nutritional value.
Over along period of time margarine was considered a healthy alternative to butter. But since its high in trans fat, at least most of them are, they fail at being a better option. Trans fats increase LDL (low density lipoprotein) which can lead to raised cholesterol levels.
You may want to instead , churn your own butter from full cream milk or substitute margarine with nut milk or yoghurts.
When used in small quantities, may not pose any harm as such, but their high sugar content is the noticeable issue. When consumed in large amounts or regularly then one must keep a check.
You may want to instead make your own ketchup at home with home made tomato paste, with desired sugar and salt.
Again the high sodium and fat content, fails it to be of any nutritional value. Even though they are easy to cook and instant fillers.
You may want to reduce the consumption or look for alternatives.
In order to make it to your dinner table, frozen dinners contain a lot of sodium, fat and sugar. To maintain their taste, color and increase their shelf life these additives are necessary and ironically unhealthy
You may want to think of preparing fresh meals or opting for home cooked specials suppliers. They may be a little heavy on the pocket, but consider the health issues and hospital bills later, that can be avoided.
To sum up, our busy lives and hectic schedules are making it more and more difficult to take care of our health.
We need to switch to either organic food, so that we may consume better or start cooking at home. Though conventionally grown produce has not entirely been ruled out as harmful, but if we have other heathier options then why not.
On the other hand if cooking is still not an option we have budding home cooks who deliver freshly cooked food. We may not be completely able to exempt processed food from our lives. Because the more our tastes develop the more options we look for in the market.
However a slight change in our lifestyles too might be beneficial. Like increasing the amount of fruits and vegetables in our diets. Both organic or inorganic, just the fibre content should be right.