Gone are the days when people fed on healthy but boring food. With the advanced technology and higher desire to enjoy life, food has become the most risk factor for most diseases. Not that all healthy foods are tasteless, but who would want to eat food with fewer sugars, low fats, and limited sodium?

Processed foods are unavoidable in the current lifestyle. And if you were to consume unprocessed food strictly, you may end up not having food to eat. When talking about processed food, we’re talking about anything that’s changed from its natural form. So, why do you need to avoid processed foods?

What consists of processed foods?

Processed foods are not just ready meals. It’s any food that has been changed during preparation. It could have been altered through freezing, canning, baking, washing, adding ingredients,or drying.

Examples of processed foods

The common types of processed foods include;

  • Drinks like milk and soft drinks
  • Biscuits and cakes
  • Ready meals and microwave foods
  • Meat products like sausage, ham, bacon
  • Snacks like pastries, crisps
  • Bread
  • Cheese
  • Breakfast cereals
  • Canned vegetables

Why is food processed?

Processing is important for most meals, and almost all foods get processed in one way or another before being eaten. Some foods cannot survive without getting processed. The major reason for processing food is toget rid of micro-organisms and extend its shelf life.

Is cooking also food processing?

Yes. Even cooking or mixing food with another foodstuff to form a different recipe is food processing. The fact that the nutritional value is affected makes it a processedprocess.

What makes processed food unhealthy?

They contain artificial ingredients

If you’re keen on the list located on the back of food packaging, you’ll notice most of the ingredients are unrecognizable. These unknown chemicals aremanufacturer’s short cut to make their products more appealing to the buyers. The artificial substances commonly used include; texturing agents, artificial coloring, chemical flavoring, and preservatives.

High amounts of sugars

The one reason people enjoy processed foods is also the number one thing that makes them highly unhealthy-added sugars. Added sugars and high fructose used in a processed foodstuff have no nutritional value but highcalories. Consuming meals with excess sugars are linked with overeating and health problems like inflammatory issues, metabolic syndrome, and type 2 diabetes. Soft drinks, candies, brownies, and icecreams are usually sweetened and are the main sources of unhealthy sugars.

Refined carbohydrates

Carbohydrates are important for any diet. Even so, carbs provided by whole foods are healthier than refined ones. Refined carbohydrates are quickly broken down, increasing insulin and blood sugar levels. When these levels decrease, an individual will have cravings attacks andlow energy, making a person seek unhealthy staff to satisfy their strongappetite.

Contains low amounts of nutrients

Food processing interferes with the nutritional value of foods. Essential minerals and vitamins are lost due to the ultra-processing techniques. Some manufacturers add synthetic minerals and vitamins to replace the healthful substances that were eliminated during processing. Lacking these beneficial compounds denies individuals healthy effects like antioxidants, anticarcinogenic, and anti-inflammatory properties.

Poor in fiber

Fiber has a beneficial impact on our health. Ever wondered why processed foods barely make you full, you keep wanting more and more without getting satisfied? Here is the thing. Fiber helps to delay the absorption of carbohydrates and makes you feel full for long hours, leading to an intake of fewer calories. Lack of enough fiber has opposite side effects. You’ll consume many calories because of appetite attacks caused by the quick absorption of carbohydrates.

Fast calories

Processed foods are manufactured in a way that they’re simple to chew and swallow. Due to low fiber content, little energy is used to eat and digest these foodscompared to whole foods. A person will eat more and have a greater count of calories than they utilize, leading to unintentional extra weight.

Trans fats

Processed foods have unhealthy fats. They mostly have refined oils that are easy to use, can last for long, and are less costly than healthy fats. Trans fats increase the risks of inflammation and the levels of bad cholesterol. In return, good cholesterol is reduced, and that’s how health issues are introduced to an individual’s body. You’ll be exposed to stroke, heart illnesses, and type 2 diabetes.

How can you reduce the consumption of highly processed foods?

Make small steps towards reducing processed diet

If you’re a big fan of processed meals, it’ll be impossible to cut back on processed foods suddenly. Make small changes and slowly try to reduce the portion of the artificial meals you consume.

Introduce fresh foods to supplement your meals

Adding fruit or healthy salad to a not-so-healthy meal makes a big difference in your body. It’ll help you obtain nutrients that are lacking in processed foods.

Take more water instead of sweetened beverages

Water will remain a beneficial drink with pleasant results. If plain water is too flavorless for you, flavor it with a fruit or opt for carbonated water.

Avoid adding salt to foods

It’s a habit for most of us to add salt to foods like fries and other meals to boost flavor. Avoid doing so. Use pepper or garlic instead.

Choose brown over white

Brown foodstuff is healthier and more filling. Swap your white bread with brown bread, and you’ll love the results.

Limit your intake or completely stay away from processed meat

Bacon, hot dogs, sausages, and ham are everyone’sfavorites. You may have to avoid these foods for better health because theyare linked to cancer and other diseases.

Plan your meals earlier

Ready meals are our last-minute savior anytime we don’t have time to prepare food. Having meals ready so that you can grab and go in your rush hours will prevent you from having to consume unhealthy stuff.

Have your healthier versions of canned meals

Do batch cooking on the weekend or any day you have time. Afterward, keep your homemade meals in the refrigerator, and you won’t have to buy canned meals that are preserved with harmful chemicals.

Don’t be fooled by advertisements

Most of the time, we want to try the tasty foods that are advertised online. The advertisers will give promising facts about their unhealthy foodstuff, yet their products are not as safe as they want us to believe. Don’t fall for their trap.


Processed foods are fun to eat due to their content of sugars, salts, sweeteners, and fats. Sometimes it’s impossibleto keep away from them. Still, you may have to replace them with healthier versions if you want to stay healthy. If you must take processed foods, opt for healthier alternatives like yogurt, unsweetened almond milk, freeze-dried fruits, dark chocolate, and brown bread, among others. You cannot avoid processed meals completely, but you can reduce your intake.

Crystal Kadir

MS, Durham University

The work of a family doctor includes a wide range of clinical diversity, which requires extensive knowledge and erudition from a specialist. However, I believe that the most important thing for a family doctor is to be human because the cooperation and understanding between the doctor and the patient are crucial in ensuring successful health care. On my days off, I love being in nature. Since childhood, I have been passionate about playing chess and tennis. Whenever I have time off, I enjoy traveling around the world.

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