You probably consume processed foods regularly. In fact, 70 percent of all food consumed by Americans is actually processed. While some processed food consumption will have little negative effects on your health, consuming a lot of processed food can adversely affect your health long-term. Additives such as sodium and sugar are prevalent in processed foods. Over consumption of sodium can hurt your brain, kidneys, bones, liver, heart, skin and stomach. Too much sugar can lead to obesity and unhealthy teeth and can even lead to liver problems or diabetes.
In addition to all of the poor additives that come from consuming too much processed food, food that is processed loses vital nutrients in the production process. This means that processed food is not only facilitating the intake of unhealthy additives, but also making the food itself less healthy.
So why is food processed? Processed foods have a much longer shelf life then fresh foods. This makes them safer for human consumption long-term. Processed foods are generally less labor intensive to prepare than fresh foods. However, the negatives of eating too much processed foods should encourage you to take the extra time to prepare fresh foods that are high in healthy nutrients and low in things such as salt and sugar.
Take tomatoes for example. A regular tomato is only about 20 calories with approximately a ¾ teaspoon (tsp) of sugar and 6 milligrams (mg) of sodium. However, that same tomato that is processed and canned is 30 calories with 5 tsp. of sugar and 250 mg of sodium. This means that it has 5 times as much sugar and over 41 times as much salt! Then if it is processed further the results are even worse. A jar of canned pasta sauce has 65 calories per serving, 2.5 tsp. of sugar and 450 mg of salt. The average human should only consume about 1,500 mg of sodium per day. So three servings of pasta sauce will almost meet that threshold.
Another disturbing fact about processed food is the way it is monitored by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). While there are an estimated 5,000 different approved additives that go into processed food, the FDA has no system of checks and balances to ensure that none of the additives are even more harmful than salt and sugar. Regulations on processed food by the FDA are self-regulatory – meaning that the food industry does the testing – but also the testing is voluntary. The food companies do not have to inform the FDA about a new ingredient. Which means that in addition to salt and sugar, there are a host of other chemicals and ingredients that are entering your body regularly that you and the FDA do not know about. How can you evaluate the nutritional value of food if you don’t know all of the ingredients?
Processed food has many adverse effects on your body and eating too much processed food can lead to a large amount of health problems. Additionally, without a better system for food regulation, there is no telling what you are putting in your body when eating processed foods. In small amounts, processed food is fine. It is great if you do not have time to cook an entirely fresh meal or on occasion, but avoid processed foods if there is another alternative. Eating fresh fruits, vegetables and meats can help you ingest better nutrients and avoid consuming too much salt or sugar. This practice will also help supplement any weight loss programs that you do. A healthy diet, avoiding processed foods and using our state-of-the-art to eliminate cellulite will help you meet your weight loss goals and feel healthier and fitter long-term.