What Is Processed Food?
One fine weekend, when you had gone grocery shopping with your kids and asked your kids to choose whatever they like, albeit healthy, and they come back holding a packet of sausage, a canned corn syrup, and a packet of chocos. What did you do? Did you buy them or did you dispose of them, saying they are unhealthy food?
Well, are you quite sure that whatever food comes in packages or cans is unhealthy? Does the term processed food ring a siren in your head?
Let’s know what exactly processed foods are. Anything coming from the agricultural land undergoes some sort of processing till it reaches us. Yes! You read that right. Even the most organic foods undergo food processing.
Processed food is any food that has been altered in some way during preparation. This can include anything from freezing and canning to adding preservatives or other additives.
Can Processed Food and a Healthy Diet Go in a Single Phrase?
The answer is Yes, it can! No, you didn’t misread it. We indeed wrote yes as the answer. Yes, processed food can be a part of a healthy diet; as long as the processing does not remove key nutrients and fiber.
Processing can make some foods more nutritious, such as tomatoes, which are more lycopene-rich when cooked. Lycopene is an antioxidant that has been linked to lower rates of cancer and heart disease.
But does that mean all processed foods are healthy? Just like “everything that glitters is not gold”, similarly every processed food isn’t healthy!
Tips to Choose Healthy Processed Foods.
When you buy a new gadget or equipment, the first thing you search for in the package is its manual or instruction book. We are lucky that now even for processed food, we have some sort of manual, which guides us on what to look for and what to avoid when choosing these foods.
Here are a few tips from that manual:
- Read the label:
The label on a food product can tell you a lot about the nutritional value of the food. Be sure to check the label for calories, fat, cholesterol, sodium, and fiber content.
- Check the ingredient list:
The ingredient list can tell you what the food is made of. Be sure to check the list for healthy ingredients, such as whole grains, lean protein, healthy fats, fruits, and vegetables.
- Check the nutrition facts:
The nutrition facts can tell you how many nutrients are in the food. Be sure to check the label for calories, fat, cholesterol, sodium, and fiber content. Avoid processed foods that are high in sugar, salt, and unhealthy fats.
Examples of healthy processed foods.
Healthy processed foods are those that are minimally processed and contain little to no added sugar, salt, or unhealthy fats. They are typically rich in nutrients like fibre, protein, and healthy fats.
- Canned tuna
One example of processed food that can be part of a healthy diet is canned tuna. Canned tuna is a good source of protein and omega-3 fatty acids, and it can be a healthy addition to your diet.
However, some canned tuna brands are high in mercury, so check the label before you buy. When buying canned tuna, look for brands that are labelled “low mercury” or “no added mercury.” You can also find fresh tuna at most grocery stores.
- Frozen yogurt.
Another processed food that can be part of a healthy diet is frozen yogurt. Frozen yoghurt is a good source of calcium, and it can be a healthy alternative to ice cream.
However, some brands of frozen yogurt are high in sugar, so be sure to check the label before you buy. When buying frozen yogurt, look for brands that are labeled “low sugar” or “no added sugar.”
- Packaged hummus
- Frozen veggies
- Pre Cooked quinoa
- Canned soup
- Shelf stable almond milk
- Air-popped popcorn
- Jarred salsa
Salsa is a great source of vitamins and minerals, and it can be a healthy addition to your diet. However, processed foods can often be high in sodium, so be sure to check the label before you buy.
- Whole grain crackers
- Veggie burger patties.
- Brown rice.
Healthy Food Vs Highly Processed Food.
Healthy food contains the nutrients required by our body to sustain its functions.
Highly processed foods have undergone more extensive processing and generally have a worse nutritional profile than less processed foods, thus not satiating the nutrients demand of your body. On the other hand, it causes more harm than good to you, by making you vulnerable to many diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure, heart diseases, high cholesterol, etc.
While most children, (and sometimes adults too) find healthy food to be boring, this is a clear fact that nothing can replace it in our diet. Highly processed foods have two main targets, one is soothing the taste buds and the other is longer shelf life.
Highly processed foods to avoid.
-Processed meats (bacon, ham, sausage, deli meats).
-Foods with added sugars (cookies, cakes, candy, sweetened cereals).
-Refined grains (white bread, white rice).
-Highly processed oils (trans fats).
-Packaged foods with artificial ingredients (MSG, high fructose corn syrup).
-Sugary drinks are empty calories.
A Healthy Diet Plan for Your Kid!
As a parent, you are always worried about what goes into your kid’s tummy. Though giving them a healthy nutritious diet is essential, without variety may bore them out sooner than later. Here is how you can assure a healthy diet plan for your kid:
- Include plenty of fruits and vegetables in their diet.
- Give them healthy snacks like nuts and seeds.
- Encourage them to drink plenty of water.
- Occasionally, give them healthy processed foods as a reward for completing their homework or helping you out. This will break the monotony of their diet without compromising much on the nutrients!
- Get them involved in some physical activity every day.
- Avoid sugary drinks and highly processed foods.
Eating a healthy diet is one of the best things you can do for your as well as your entire household’s overall health. It can help you maintain a healthy weight, reduce your risk of chronic diseases, and improve your overall well-being!
If you are unsure how, to begin with, a healthy diet, check out the manuals you may find online. You can always visit the AOL School website for more manuals through their blogs!