Processed Foods

I think it is time to start using the term ‘processed food’ correctly, understand its real meaning, and that there is a difference from ‘ultra-processed’ food.

The vilification of processed foods only shows a lack of understanding because avoidance is practically impossible and unnecessary, the confusion might have started by utilizing the wrong terminology and then spread as misinformation.

Processed foods by definition are any foods that have been altered in some way during preparation. Food processing can be as basic as freezing, canning, or cooking. Would you call grandma’s delicious homemade from hand-picked apples, apple sauce processed because she peeled them, boiled them, and canned them? Probably not.

Neither boiled carrots, baked sweet potatoes, grilled chicken, steamed veggies, or Greek yogurt even. Many processed foods are as nutritious, if not more than before undergoing the process. Fearmongering without substance or evidence has made the word “processed” scary, but it shouldn’t be.

Ultra-processed foods, by definition, generally include a large number of additives such as preservatives, sweeteners, sensory enhancers, colorants, flavors, and processing aids, but little or no whole foods, or nutrients. Many of these foods are engineered to taste good but may or may not be nutritious.

For health purposes and to avoid lacking nutrients in our diet, it is a good idea to consume a variety of nutritious foods from all food groups. There is no need to avoid or restrict any foods that we enjoy, that’s why the idea of consuming somewhat 80% of the diet from whole food sources including minimally processed foods, and 20% from whatever your soul desires including ultra-processed foods, comes from. Because it ensures good nutrition while still being able to enjoy all the palatable foods without missing nutrients. And the best part is that nothing happens if those percentages are sometimes skewed a little, it only allows us to live more freely and relaxed which let me tell you, lowering stressors is worth it on its own.

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