What Are You Really Eating & You're Ok With That??
According to EatRight.org, processed foods are food that have been cooked, canned, frozen, packaged or changed in nutritional composition with fortifying, preserving or preparing in different ways. Any time we cook, bake or prepare food, we're processing food.
Processed food falls on a spectrum from minimally to heavily processed:
Minimally processed foods: bagged spinach, cut vegetables and roasted nuts — often are simply pre-prepped for convenience.
Foods processed at their peak to lock in nutritional quality and freshness: canned tomatoes, frozen fruit and vegetables, and canned tuna.
Foods with ingredients added for flavor and texture (sweeteners, spices, oils, colors and preservatives): jarred pasta sauce, salad dressing, yogurt and cake mixes.
Ready-to-eat foods: crackers, granola and deli meat are more heavily processed.
Most heavily processed foods: pre-made meals including frozen pizza and microwaveable dinners.
There are some positives to processed foods. Milk and juices sometimes are fortified with calcium and vitamin D, and breakfast cereals may have added fiber. Canned fruit (packed in water or its own juice) is a good option when fresh fruit is not available. Some minimally processed food such as pre-cut vegetables are quality convenience foods for busy people.
Lightly processed foods include pre-cut apple slices, hard-boiled eggs, canned tuna and frozen vegetables. These are nutritious choices and can make healthy eating more convenient for busy people. Heavily processed foods can be recognized as food not in its original form, like potato chips and crackers, or food that is not naturally occurring, such as sodas, donuts, cookies and candy."
The best way to avoid processed food is to food prep at home and to read Nutritional Labels. Ingredients to look out for are:
Added salt (Americans should only consume 2,300 mg per day)
Trans Fats (Contributor to raising cholesterol)