Processed foods are reputed for all the wrong reasons. They are widely known for being ‘health spoilers’ and for this reason it is recommended that processed foods are best avoided. Unfortunately, these are some of our favorite foods and are very popular for their hold on our palate. Now here’s good news for those concerned about processed food: some of them can actually be good for your health!
Processed foods are foods that don’t exist in their natural state. They have been altered, either to make them safe for consumption or easier for storage.
Popular methods of processing foods include freezing, dehydrating, canning, and aseptic processing .It’s not these methods that make the food unsafe, rather, it’s the ingredients used in processing, such as excessive salt, sugar or fats that give them the dubious reputation.
The Good Ones
There are many processed foods that are actually good for your health and milk is one of them! Milk that is available to us in sachets or bottles is pasteurized to destroy the bacteria present. It then goes through a process called homogenization – a process that prevents milk fats from separating. Milk, especially the low fat or the non fat kind, is a wholesome food that is good for most people.
Breakfast cereals are processed too, but can be good for you if they contain whole grains fortified with nutrients. Care must be taken to avoid low-fiber, high –sugar cereals , as these can do more harm than good.
Freezing is another form of processing that preserves nutrients and makes it convenient to store the food and make it available all year round. Frozen vegetables and fruits are good as they have no added components like sauce, syrup or sugar.
Juices of fruits and vegetables too are good but take care to avoid those with sugar or high levels of preservatives in them.
Seafood, frozen or canned fish, oatmeal, dried fruits, whole grain bread, roasted seeds and nuts and dried fruits are some examples of processed foods that are healthy and right you’re your health.
The Bad Ones
Processed foods that are low in nutrients and contain a lot of sugar, salt or transfat are not good for daily consumption.
Some of the processed foods that you must eat sparingly include the following –
- Canned foods high in salt or fat
- Breakfast cereals with high sugar content
- Pasta made of processed white flour, as it is a low-fiber and high calorie food
- High-calorie, high-salt snacks available in packets, such as chips
- Cakes, candies and cookies , as they are high in calories, sugar and fats
- Processed meat, as it contains high levels of saturated fats
Tips to Follow
- Always check the packets and read the nutrition labels to know the levels of sugar, salt and fats present in the food that you eat
- Some of these foods are color coded. To enable the consumer to know whether any packaged food is vegetarian or non-vegetarian, this will be indicated in the form of a brown or red circle in square or green circle in a square on the package. A brown/red circle is to indicate the presence of non-vegetarian ingredients in the food item, while a green circle indicates that the food item is vegetarian.
- Be aware of what you eat and go for healthier choices. Always avoid food with high levels of salt, sugar or fats