Many are the times that we hear about processed food. However, most of do not understand what they exactly are. There is always a belief that processed foods are not good for body health which has greatly turned people against it. Most people are very confused on what processed really are and unfortunately, most depend on the wrong explanations from the untrustworthy sources. The following explanation will help you understand the processed food better.
What Does the Term Processed Food Actually Mean?
What is processed food?
Processed food is a food substance that its original natural form has been tempered with. Food’s natural state is altered for many reasons which include; preserving it from bacterial damage, convenience and to improve its taste. Therefore, if you thought processed food is the one from the shop then you were wrong. Some processed foods are unhealthy but the belief that all are unhealthy is also wrong; some processed food contain healthy substance like salt added to them. But is salt not among the top causes of high blood pressure? The following are things that can make a certain type of food be branded as processed:
1. Addition of foreign substances to food
The main aim of adding other substances to a natural food is to improve its flavor and to preserve it. This kind of processing can take place either at home or at the industries where the food substances sold to people are processed. Adding of the foreign substances is where the idea of ‘processed food is harmful’ comes from. It is true that some substances added to food have negative effects on the body but others like salt don’t. Adding salt, spices, food color, flavouring substances, additional ingredients for a full meal or preservative, you are rendering that food a processed food. Therefore, majority of the foods that you take are processed except the fruits that are neither frozen nor canned.
2. Electric heating
Using microwave to heat your food automatically makes it processed food. Shocked? The radiations that make your food warm can interfere with some minerals and render then less beneficial to your body.
Storing food in your fridge does not make it natural; it is a form of processing hence any food frozen food is processed food. Most people think that freezing food destroys all the nutrients but the opposite is true.
Baking is the act of making bread, cakes and any other wheat product. Since baking is a form of processing, there is no unprocessed wheat product. The effect on your body health depends on the ingredients used during baking. This is where the quality difference comes in. Wheat products with less harmful health promoting ingredients are considered to be of high quality and are often expensive.
Drying is a way of preserving meat, cereals and fish. This make any dried substance to be termed as processed. Drying is a more natural way of preserving food that does not have any negative effects on the body.
Canning is a way of preserving food. The examples of the food substances that are always canned are; fruits, vegetables, beans and tomatoes.
Factors that make processed food harmful
1. Amounts of the additives
Most additives are added to the food to improve their flavour. The additives are not harmful but the excess of them make it harmful. That is why the homemade processed food is trusted by many. This is because the consumer regulates the amounts of the substances added.
2. Amount and type of processed foods
Cakes are processed food substances that are known to have large quantities of sugar. Taking more cakes increases the amount of sugar intake than the recommended. This could lead to rise in blood sugar levels causing diseases such as diabetes and other sugar-related diseases. However, taking larger amounts of canned fruits doesn’t have any negative effects on the body health.
How to choose the appropriate processed food
Processed food is chosen by considering the ingredients that were used to make them and the quantities of those ingredients. Choose a food substance that you are sure of its constituents and their amounts in it. For instance, soda is made from excess artificial sugar and caffeine. These are substances that excess of it are harmful to your health. The major ingredients that you should check on their amounts are sugar, salt and fat. Excess fats are the major causes of high blood pressure.
Generally, processed foods are most of what we take. This is because every step that we take in either improving the flavour or preserving makes it processed food. Therefore, not all processed foods are harmful; it is only those which have excess ingredients. It can also be harmful if you take processed food in excess. All the ready-made food substances bought from the shops are always processed and are a larger percentage of what people term as harmful food substances.