Why are processed foods bad?
Foods that are related to technical moderation and changes either for preservation or for converting them into ready-to-use/eat foods, eliminating hard household procedures, are called “processed foods”. Some of the examples are ready mixes, dehydrated foods, pasta products, canned foods, confectioneries, bakery, dairy products and breakfast foods. Manufacture of processed foods requires technology and breakfast foods. Manufacture of processed foods require technology and machinery, and as a result, processed foods are expensive. Manufacture of processed foods is on the increase in the unorganized, small-scale and cottage-industry sectors and these products may not always be in conformity with food standards.
Do we need processed foods?
There is an increased demand for processed, ready to eat and convenience foods due to changes in lifestyle. As more and more women go to work outside, and families become nuclear, consumption of processed foods, particularly in urban areas, will be on the increase. Today’s consumer is looking for convenient, easy-to-cook, and ready-to-eat foods which require less time to prepare than traditional home-cooked foods.
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Do processed foods contribute to nutrient intake?
Processed foods are generally consumed either as part of a meal or as a snack item. Their contribution in terms of essential nutrients depends on the type of processing and fortification, the frequency of use, and the quantity consumed. Processed foods are generally refined and a majority of them are rich in fat or in salt/sugar and are calorie dense. They lack dietary fibre and micronutrients. Thus, caution needs to be followed when processed foods contain a major part of the meal and diet. Breakfast cereals are increasingly being used in urban areas. They are expensive. In contrast, traditional breakfast items like idli, dosa, upma and roti are richer sources of nutrients. Puffed and parched rice products, besides being crisp and tasty, are easily digestible. Food items like chips, candies, peppermint, chocolates, etc., which are popular among children, are considered as junk foods since they provide only empty calories often containing artificial colours and other additives. Their use should be discouraged.
Effects of processed foods on health?
Frequent consumption of processed food will depress appetite, thereby reducing the consumption of normal nutrients diet. Apart from not being nutritious, processed foods also contain various food additives. Food additives consumed beyond permissible limits may have adverse effects on health. The national food regulatory authorities periodically review these limits. It is important to remember that even small amounts of different additives, when obtained through a variety of processed foods, can substantially contribute to the burden of foreign chemicals in the body. When various processed foods are consumed regularly as part of our daily diet, there is a danger of the level of intake of these additives going beyond the specified safe level, which could result in a health risk to the consumer. Thus, consumption of processed foods may not only affect intake of nutrients but, in addition, increase the risk of exposure to various chemical additives.
In the coming years, with larger constraints on time in the home, demand for processed foods is certain to increase. Care is necessary to see that a nutritionally sound diet is not compromised through the unwise intake of various processed and convenience foods.Processed vegetables and fruits which are currently available cannot be equated with fresh vegetables and fruits.
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Why should we moderate intake of sugar and processed foods to avoid for weight loss?
Sugars occur both naturally and as an ingredient in many foods. They are present in natural foods like fruits, vegetables, milk and honey. Added sugar provide taste and texture to foods. Sugar is present in processed foods like chocolates, jams, ice creams and soft drinks. The most familiar sugar is sucrose. Refined or table sugar provides ” empty calories”. Foods such as cakes, pastries, confectionery and sweets often have high amounts of fat and sugar and are prepared with refined cereals. Consumption or intake of excess of sugary foods may lead to obesity and elevated blood lipids./ Children overindulging in chocolates and candies are prone to dental caries. For prevention of diet-related chronic diseases, sugars and refined cereals should be used sparingly.
- Prefer traditional homemade foods.
- Avoid processed snack foods at meal times.
- Limit consumption of sugar and processed foods which provide only empty calories.
- Prefer fortified processed foods.
- Limit intake of processed foods to decrease the load of the food additive in the body.
- Always look for information on the food label regarding shelf-life and the additives used.