5 things you probably didn't know about processed food
Processed food has earned a reputation for being high in saturated fat, sugar, and salt.
Another major concern about processed foods is the long list of complicated ingredients that are cryptic to decode, added to enhance flavor, preserve color, improve consistency, keep ingredients mixed and preserve for longer.
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Ultra-processed foods like white bread, cereal, chips, and wafers are remarkably common, convenient, affordable, extremely profitable for the makers, come in strong flavors and are aggressively marketed.
These 'ultra-processed' foods are low on essential nutrients while being high in sugar, salt and oils. The base ingredients which are used to 'engineer' these foods (cheap vegetable oils, sugar, flour) are already refined.
We consume ultra-processed foods every day without even realizing it.
Most cooked foods can be termed as 'processed foods', but ultra-processed foods are in a different domain, with few people having the clarity to differentiate.
A cooked carrot is processed food, but a bag of industrially-produced, carrot-flavored veggie puffs are ultra-processed and are still aimed at toddlers as a portion of natural food. Other examples include frozen peas or pasteurized milk.
Should humanity face a nuclear apocalypse of worldwide war, we need to understand which foods might be safe for survivors to eat, and how long the foods will last.
To understand this, we need to ask what makes food spoil.
Most foods spoil because of the growth of microbes. Preserving food is an attempt to limit microbial growth. Food can be preserved by drying, salting, chilling, or storing in air-tight containers.
Preservatives are used in foods to extend their shelf lives. One of McDonald's Big Mac in Iceland is an example of a long-lasting processed food. It has been on display since 2009, in a glass box. Preservatives that has been discontinued by McDonald's are:
The term is not formally defined by the Food and Drug Administration. But, the government agency doesn't object to the use of the term if the food does not contain added color, artificial flavors, or synthetic substances.
Natural does not mean organic or healthy. So, always read the ingredient list to really know what's in a food.
The term organic doesn't necessarily mean healthy, as evidenced by organic candies and baked goods. Once again, when buying packaged food, the real litmus test is the ingredient list.
The Organic Seal indicates that food was produced without industrialized substances and under humane conditions. It goes from “100% organic” to "Made With Organic Ingredients"(the product was made with a minimum of 70% organic ingredients, with restrictions on the remaining 30%, including no GMOs.)
There is no formal national definition for the term local. What local does not mean is organic or more nutritious, which is something many believe.