Processed foods are those foods that have been altered from their natural and original state. They have been change in order to enhance their shelf life, flavour, texture or taste. It is important to know what you are eating, therefore food labels can provide information in order for you to make an informed choice about the foods that you put in your mouth.
Ways in which to avoid highly processed foods:
- Reading the labels will give you a better idea of what the food contains. If the food you are purchasing has a long list of ingredients that you are unfamiliar with, or difficult to pronounce, the chances are that it is not made with real food and is highly processed;
- By increasing your consumption of whole foods, your intake of processed foods is naturally decreased;
- Look at the ingredients rather than the marketing in order to determine its nutritional content;
- High fructose corn syrup, MSG and trans fats are all highly processed foods;
- Avoid take away foods such as pizza, hamburgers and French fries. They may all be bursting with highly processed items;
- Make as many treats such as muffins, biscuits at home. This way you know exactly what you are putting into the product and you can also add extra goodness such as flaxseed meal or chia seeds.
Avoid Foods that are not nutritious
Processed foods are characteristically high in trans fats, sodium and sugars.
The following is a list of foods that have been highly processed:
- Lollies and sweets;
- Breakfast cereals that are high in sugar;
- Packaged cakes and biscuits;
- Processed meat. Some studies suggest that by consuming a high intake of processed meats, your chances of developing certain cancers may be increased. Processed meats may be high in sodium and saturated fats.1
- Frozen dinners.
The best way in which to ensure optimal health is to cook at home with fresh, whole foods as much as possible. It is important to check the nutrition labels on each product that you purchase.
1. Larsson SC, Wolk A. Meat consumption and risk of colorectal cancer: A meta-analysis of prospective studies. Int J Cancer. 2006 Dec 1;119(11):2657-64.
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