Before reaching for another slice of pizza or a chicken nugget, it might be worth taking a closer look at what eating too many processed foods could mean for your health. From potential risks like weight gain to heart disease, filling the diet with processed foods may not be worth the delicious pleasure or convenience.
But we need to ask ourselves, what exactly is ultra-processed food? Ultra-processed foods are defined as ready-to-eat and microwaveable foods, such as bread, breakfast cereal, chicken nuggets, candies, chips, and artificially sweetened beverages. Ultra-processed food is a food item that has undergone a chemical or mechanical alteration to change or preserve it. Technically a “processed food” is any food that’s been changed before eating it, according to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
What are some of the health risks effects of ultra-processed foods?
• Increased cancer risk
• Type 2 diabetes
• Heart disease
How to reduce processed foods from the diet?
• Check labels – the longer the ingredient list, the more processed the food is.
• Opt for minimally processed meats – seafood and chicken while avoiding items like sausage and cured meats.
• Start slowly – exchange processed foods with more fresh foods.
• Cook more meals at home.
It would be difficult to remove all heavily processed foods from the diet. Eating less processed food doesn’t have to be complicated. Buy more whole or minimally processed foods or do the processing yourself. Embrace home cooking for fun and health.