Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The Perils of Processed Foods

Processed foods are to blame for the sharp rise in obesity levels and chronic disease around the globe, according to the World Health Organization, yet processed, packaged foods have almost completely taken over the diet of North Americans. In fact, nearly 90 percent of our household food budget is spent on processed foods, according to industry estimates.

The majority of processed foods are filled with additives and stripped of nutrients. Look at the broccoli with cheese sauce from the freezer, the can of instant soup from the pantry, or the hot dogs from your refrigerator and try to read ingredient list's fine print. You'll likely find food additives in every one.

Is this healthy? Compared to the foods our bodies were built to eat, definitely not.
Unfortunately, most processed foods are laden with sweeteners, salts, artificial flavors, factory-created fats, colorings, chemicals that alter texture, and preservatives. But the trouble is not just what's been added, but what's been taken away. Processed foods are often stripped of nutrients designed by nature to protect your heart, such as soluble fiber, antioxidants, and "good" fats. Combine that with additives and you have a recipe for disaster.


Compared to traditional sweeteners, high-fructose corn syrup costs less to make, is sweeter to the taste, and easily combines with other ingredients. We currently consume nearly 63 pounds of it per person per year in drinks and sweets, as well as in many frozen foods. It’s found in all types of breads (whole-wheat and white), hamburger buns, and English muffins. It is in bacon, spaghetti sauce, soft drinks, and even ketchup.

Research is beginning to suggest that this liquid sweetener may upset the human metabolism, raising the risk for heart disease and diabetes. Research has shown that high-fructose corn syrup’s chemical structure encourages overeating. It also seems to force the liver to pump more heart-threatening triglycerides into the bloodstream. In addition, fructose may zap your body’s reserves of chromium, a mineral important for healthy levels of cholesterol, insulin, and blood sugar.

Look for the words “corn sweetener”, “corn syrup” or “corn syrup solids” as well as “high-fructose corn syrup” on the labels to see if it’s in your food.

For a long time, I've been reading labels and cooking fresh vegetables and other foods for nearly all of our meals. It's more work and more expensive to eat healthy, but in the long run it is worth it. We never eat fast food, but we occasionally have a burger at a restaurant that prepares them in a more healthy manner. You have to have treats once in a while.


No comments:

Post a Comment