Is this processed too? | The Indian SCENE

Is this processed too?

With a bit of detective work, some processed foods can be a part of your balanced diet

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Processed foods are largely blamed for America’s obesity epidemic and other chronic health conditions, such as high blood pressure and type-2 diabetes. But not all processed foods are a threat to our well-being. In fact, they can be made part of a balanced plate with a tad bit of detective work from our side. It’s simply a matter of unraveling the mysteries of the nutrition label.

What exactly is processed food?

A processed food is any food that has been altered in some way during preparation. Not all processed foods are the same — they can range from minimally-processed to heavily-processed.

  • Minimally processed foods are foods pre-prepared for convenience, often processed at peak times to maintain nutritional quality and freshness. These include bagged greens (e.g. spinach and cut vegetables), roasted nuts, frozen vegetables, frozen fruits, canned vegetables, canned beans and canned tuna.
  • Moderately processed foods contain ingredients — spices, sugar, salt, fat — added to enhance flavor and texture. Think salad dressings, sauces or yogurt.
  • Heavily processed foods include canned soups, pre-made dinners, frozen snacks, crackers and deli meats.

Choosing minimally processed foods can be positive and beneficial in balancing our meals towards healthy eating: pre-cut vegetables are convenient for busy families on weeknights, bagged greens and salads are great for work lunches, and canned fruits and vegetables packed in are good choices for semi-homemade cooking.

So when dealing with processed foods, review the ingredients list for added sugars, salt and fats or oils. Consume foods with these additives in moderation. Understand the good, bad and ugly of these foods and be a winner when you choose them. Equip yourself with the knowledge to read nutrition labels, understand what additives are used and how they affect your long-term health. Taste that hurts your body is simply not worth the pleasure.

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