Are Processed Foods Bad For You? Should You Avoid Them Completely? Nutritionist Shares Insights

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‘Processed Food’ is the buzzword in the world of health and fitness. In fact, it has been a major concern among all whether to include such foods in their everyday diet. A mere search on the internet will bring forth various theories and expert opinions on the same, ultimately leaving you confused. But fret not, we have got your back. In this article, nutritionist and weight loss coach Mohita Mascarhenas breaks down the idea of ‘processed foods’ for you to help make a wise decision while planning your meals. So, without further ado, let’s get going.

What Is Considered As Processed Food? Is It Bad For Health?

According to WebMD, the term ‘processed food’ refers to any kind of food item that has been changed from its natural state. This can include the ones that were “simply cut, washed, heated, pasteurized, canned, cooked, frozen, dried, dehydrated, mixed, or packaged”. That’s not all. Even foods including preservatives, additives, flavours, and fats fall under the ‘processed food’ category. And that’s where the confusion begins.

Usually, people tend to avoid processed foods thinking they include preservatives and are bad for health. But the truth is exactly the opposite. According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, today almost every type of food item undergoes processing to extend shelf life. So, it is important to understand the type of processing a food has undergone before including or excluding it from your food regime.

Also Read: Can You Really Eat Processed Food And Be Healthy? British Health Experts Say Yes

Is It Safe To Eat Processed Food Every Day?

Let’s get it straight – not all processed foods are bad for your health. Certain foods, like milk, need processing to exclude bacteria and keep them safe for consumption. A WebMD report weighs in that even cooking and baking fall under the category of food processing, which in some cases makes the food edible and healthier. This subsequently means you are including processed foods in your diet daily.

Also Read: Your Favourite Junk Food May Have 32 Different Health Risks: Study Finds

Classification Of Processed Foods | Different Types Of Processed Foods:

Nutritionist Mohita Mascarhenas took to Instagram to share a post on how one can identify and differentiate the healthy and unhealthy ‘processed foods’. “Our food comes from across the globe. Processing ensures that it lasts the journey. Ultra-processed foods, however, are usually calorie-dense, nutrient-poor, and easy to over-consume,” she states, adding that these ‘Processed Foods’ are usually categorized into four groups.

Group 1: Minimally Processed Foods:

This group includes foods like fresh fruits and vegetables, dry fruits, frozen vegetables, nuts, dal, fish, meat, etc., where the unwanted part is removed to make them edible. Here, you do not add anything to the original substance while processing. These are the food ingredients we use to cook our meals.

Group 2: Processed Culinary Ingredients:

This group contains options like cooking oils, butter, cream, sugar, honey, spices, salt, etc. These foods become edible after pressing, refining, grinding, milling, or drying the foods from Group 1. These ingredients are usually added to foods that we cook every day.

Group 3: Processed Foods:

This group comprises canned foods, artisanal bread, cheese, wine, beer, etc. that are processed with additional oil, salt, sugar, or other things from Groups 1 and 2. These foods also undergo canning, pickling, smoking, curing, or fermentation before consumption.

Group 4: Ultra-Processed Foods:

This group typically includes foods that undergo intensive manufacturing processes. In other words, these are often referred to as junk foods. From breakfast cereals to instant foods, packaged drinks, and more – everything falls under this category. Here, the food items are an outcome of formulations made from a series of processes, including extraction and chemical modification of a particular ingredient. These foods are high in calories, and trans fats, and often lead to various health hazards.

Also Read: Not All Ultra-Processed Foods May Be Bad For Health, Recent Study Finds

For better meal planning, we suggest consulting an expert to understand your body type and the foods that will go along. Enjoy your meals mindfully!

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