What is "Processed Food"?
We have all heard the message to cut out" processed" food, or at least to cut WAY back on it. What exactly counts as a "processed" food though?
Well... even that bag of kale that you picked up in the produce section of the grocery store is by definition "processed", because it has conveniently been washed, cut and sealed into a bag. Whole oats have been cleaned, stripped of the outer hull, then steamed and roasted... before finally ending up in that round cardboard box. Even the eggs in your fridge were first washed and sorted before being packed into the carton. These are examples of MINIMALLY processed foods that are wholesome and healthy. Since most of us do not grow or produce our own food, these so called MINIMALLY processed foods provide a convenient and nutritious alternative.
HEAVILY processed food items though... like neon - colored sugary breakfast cereals and stackable artificial potato chips and fake cheese - like products are NOT healthy and should be limited if used at all. Such items do not exist in nature, but are mass produced in factories. They are often high in sodium and or sugar (or the cheaper version of sugar: "high fructose corn syrup"). HEAVILY processed snack "foods" such as packaged cakes, chips, etc. quickly send blood sugar levels soaring and do NOTHING to satisfy hunger. In general, HEAVILY processed food items promote whole body inflammation (an unfortunate situation that increases our risk for various diseases throughout the body).
SO... let's use the correct terminology! Try to select MINIMALLY processed foods whenever possible. HEAVILY processed items may occasionally be used, but it's certainly best to limit them.
Please tell your Healthy Lifestyles dietitian if you would like to learn more about "processed" foods