Processed food has gained a bad reputation in diet and health. It is said to cause obesity, diabetes and high blood pressure. The food that has been changed in some way before consumption is known as processed food. While processed foods are said to be consumed with caution, there are certain processed foods that can be consumed and can be considered in a balanced diet. There are minimally processed foods and heavily processed foods. The minimally processed food contain cut vegetables, roasted nuts, bagged spinach which can be included in a diet and is also considered good for health. While heavily processed foods pre-prepared meals and microwavable meals like frozen pizza.
However, it is always recommended to eat processed food in moderation. Experts also say that consumers should look for hidden sugar, fat and sodium before consuming processed food.
According to some dietitians, not all processed foods are bad. As food like milk needs to be pasteurized in order to remove harmful bacteria. However, ingredients such as salt and sugar are sometimes added to make processed foods more appealing and to enhance the taste. This can result in people eating more amount of processed food, leading to addiction.
Food containing high amount of refined carbohydrates and fat can have addictive properties
Scientists have found that some processed foods can have same addictive properties as hard drugs. As like drugs, these foods are broken more swiftly by the body and are quickly absorbed into bloodstream. This process triggers ‘pleasure centers’ in our brain leading to a feeling of satisfaction. Hence, this can encourage the person to eat more processed foods.
While a study conducted by scientists in New Zealand discovered that processed foods made using a large quantity of refined sugar and flour have the similar addictive qualities as tobacco. According to researchers, heavily processed foods such as sweets, cornflakes and cakes have a high quantity of refined sugar, which can raise the amount of sugar in the blood. This stimulates the same part of the brain that is involved with addiction to the hard drugs.
Eating processed food leads to too much salt intake
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), daily intake of salt should not be more than 4g for kids under 10 years of age and not more than 5g for people above 10 years of age. However, a recent study published by the University of Madrid on sodium intake in Spanish children revealed that on an average, kids were consuming 7.8g of salt on daily basis, which is more than WHO limit. Such high consumption of salty foods can continue into adulthood leading to high blood pressure and obesity.
However, experts also suggest that reading the nutrition label on processed products can help the person to keep a check on the amount of salt, sugar and fat being consumed. Doing this is simple as most of the processed foods or products have a nutrition label on the package.