In an ideal world you would be able to go to your local farmer’s market to shop for local, fresh foods every single day. With your purchases from the farmer’s market, you would be able to make all types of different delicious foods, all from scratch. However, in reality, you more than likely live nowhere close to where the food you eat comes from, meaning that you must rely on stores and the foods on their shelves in order to get the food you need. On top of that, there is also a good chance that you barely even have time to sit down and eat dinner, let alone make it from scratch.
This is where processed foods come into play. While they are extremely convenient, there are some that are extremely bad for you. On the other hand, they are actually not all as bad as you may think. Things that are alright to eat when it comes to processed foods, are going to be canned fruits in their own natural juices and pre-chopped vegetables are two good examples of processed foods that are safe to eat.
Sometimes though, the convenience of the processed foods that you are eating will not going to be as niche as pre-chopped vegetables and canned fruit. In fact, many processed foods carry around a large amount of hidden fats, sugars, and sodium.
Before you learn the foods that you should avoid like the plague, you must first understand what the different types of food processing really are.
There is actually quite a wide range of different foods that are considered to be a processed food. Some of these include:
- Potato Chips
When it comes to processed food and how it is processed, there are actually several different techniques that food companies are going to use. This being said, any type of food that has been processed is going to be dried, pasteurized, canned, frozen, or baked.
Foods have different levels of processing that they will normally go through. On one side, you may have some vegetables that will only be cleaned, chopped, and then portioned out before they are sent to the store and sold in some type of bag. On the other end, however, some of the more highly processed foods are going to contain a bunch of extra calories, salt, oils, and sugars. One of the best examples of this would be frozen pizza.
This is because the entire idea behind adding additives like fat and salt, help to make the foods safe for you to consume. Preservatives are another additive that is required in order for the food to be able to sit on the store’s shelf prior to you purchasing it. If you are trying to stick with a healthy diet though, all the pros of these additional additives may not necessarily outweigh the many cons that they have.
If you are not looking at the ingredients list when you grab food off the shelf at your local grocery store, you may be overlooking these additives. That is why you should always take quick glance at the ingredients label and check to make sure you don’t see any of these on the list:
- Hydrogenated oil
- Trans fat
The food items that contain these particular ingredients are more than likely going to have nearly twice as much of the daily-recommended value of both sugar and sodium.
Foods You Should Never Eat
Now that you know that you really need to pay attention when it comes to eating processed foods, here are some of the worst food items that you should stay away from at all costs.
Bacon contains very high sodium levels that of which can help increase your blood pressure. While getting high blood pressure from eating bacon is pretty bad, it actually only gets worse.
One of the reasons that bacon tastes so good is because it is packed full of saturated fats. These saturated fats have been proven to be directly linked with obesity, as well as heart disease. As if that weren’t enough, there is also extra danger packed into every package of bacon that you buy from the grocery store, as it has an extremely high amount of preservatives. These preservatives have been directly linked to many different health conditions, the likes of which vary from headaches, all the way to cancer.
Bacon is actually so bad, that it the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer, has stated that eating processed meats like bacon and even hot dogs, should be classified as dangerous carcinogens. This is due to the high amounts of nitrates that they contain. In fact, the same study that was done, actually classified them just as bad as smoking cigarettes.
- Granola Bars
When you think of a granola bar, which is often times referred to as a cereal bar, you probably think of hearty grains that have been packaged in a box with a sunrise and some mountains on it. While the box does look pretty, unfortunately that is where it all stops.
Granola bars are actually packed full of different kinds of sugars, leading your body to quickly digest them, which in turn is not going to satisfy your hunger for very long at all. Yes, granola bars do have a somewhat healthy marketing image, the really don’t offer you any type of real nutrition. In fact, you are going to want to avoid granola bars, as they have a very high amount of simple carbs, as well as an ingredient list that is packed full of words that are very hard to pronounce. Which as a rule of thumb, if you can’t say it, then you shouldn’t eat it.
If you really are in love with granola bars and simply can’t go without, the best plan of action is to make your own. You may have to experiment with a couple different recipes until you find the one that is right for you, but you can substitute any sugar with the plant-based sugar stevia, making them much healthier for you.
- Flavored Nuts
Flavored nuts are misleading in the sense that they always sound like they are good for you, but unfortunately they are not. No matter what the flavor may be, toffee-coated, maple-flavored, wasabi-dusted, or soy sauce, flavored nuts are loaded with extra sugar and salt. All of this extra sugar and salt can lead you to extra weight gain, high blood pressure, and even diabetes.
As if hat weren’t bad enough, their sugary, sticky goodness makes them the biggest enemy of your healthy teeth as well.
All is not lost however, if you need to have your nut fix. Instead of grabbing the flavored variety, try sticking with the nuts that are unflavored. You can even toast them and roast them, as well as simply eat them plain. Walnuts, pistachios, cashews, and just about every other nut you can think of is packed full of the good fats and protein. This means that it is in your best interest to include nuts in your healthy diet regimen.
- Microwave Popcorn
Popcorn actually isn’t as bad for you as you may think. However, all of the additional butter and salt is what puts popcorn on the no eat list. On top of that, the bag that microwave popcorn comes in contains something called Perfluoroalkyls, and are just one of the chemicals that can be found in microwave popcorn bags. Perfluoroalkyls has been linked to a variety of different health problems, some which include impaired kidney function, and even a lower quality of semen in men.
But don’t worry if you have to have popcorn to watch your favorite movie. A healthy alternative is to simply make your own popcorn. To do this, you can buy some corn kernels from the store and pop them yourself. Just put them in a pan, cover the pan with tinfoil, and put them on the stovetop. The kernels will soon begin to pop and you will have some freshly made, healthy popcorn.
Keep Things In Moderation
Processed foods have actually been around for quite a while. In fact, processed foods have actually been around since the very first barrel full of salted pork was sailed to the U.S. over the Atlantic Ocean. They are extremely convenient and give you easy access to foods that you may not necessarily been able to eat, as they would have perished while being transported.
With that being said, do your best to make sure that if you do eat processed foods, that you do so in moderation and are using your common sense. Always check the ingredients and nutrition label to make sure you are avoiding anything that is high in sugars, fats, and those nasty chemicals that you have no clue how to pronounce. And always do your best to try and make simple, fresh ingredients the main focus when it comes to your diet.