Processed foods are a part of our life…in the same way that vehicular pollution is. We can do little to avoid the latter, but we can eliminate as much processed food from our lives as we can. Doing so can protect us from a host of medical conditions that once acquired can stick around for a really long time and drain our finances.
Why is processed food harmful? It is harmful because contains preservatives, additives, and coloring agents that are used to bring down the costs of production, enhance shelf life, and add taste to the products. These chemicals lead to heart damage, overwork the organs of digestion and metabolism, and are transformed into carcinogens upon ingestion. Many processed foods are overloaded with salt and sugar. Salt increases blood pressure while sugars pile on empty calories leading to weight gain, diabetes, and even cancer.
Here are six processed foods that you should consider avoiding in order to give yourself the best chance of aging without avoidable health issues and accompanying financial drain.
1. Factory-raised animals
for meat – Animals in factory farms are raised in unhealthy, unhygienic, and unnatural conditions. Cattle and pigs are injected with hormones to boost growth and given antibiotics that collect in the animal’s organs of metabolism. The alternative is to purchase meats from local farmers’ markets where the cuts are from animals raised as they are meant to be.
– Bacon is a processed meat that is treated to processes such as smoking, curing, and canning. At each stage, preservatives such as sodium and nitrates are added. These preservatives have been shown as causative factors for heart ailments and cancer. Saturated fat contributes nearly 70% of the calories present in bacon. This fat is unhealthy and linked to pulmonary disease.
3. Salad Dressings
– Salad dressings are heavily processed. They contain edible oils that are highly processed. Using extra virgin olive oil for commercial salad dressing is costly. Manufacturers use chemicals to extract oil from pomace, which is the pulp obtained after the first press of olives. These oils are not nutritious and may actually contain harmful chemicals such as hexane. Stabilizers, thickeners, artificial colors, and emulsifiers are chemicals added to improve the taste, texture, and shelf life of dressings. These chemicals have conclusively been shown as harmful for our health.
4. Granola Bars
– Granola bars are not as healthy as popular perception suggests. They contain a lot of sugar, in different forms – corn syrup, glucose, high maltose corn syrup, and the very harmful high fructose corn syrup. Granola bars can carry more than 15 gm of sugar per unit. This is apart from sundry chemicals present in this bar.
5. Ramen Noodles
– Ramen noodles are almost entirely devoid of nutrition. Being highly processed, they are difficult to break down and place undue strain on the digestive system. Preservatives, such as TBHQ and MSG, cause irrevocable harm when consumed regularly. You ingest 2,000mg of sodium with one packet of ramen. This is more than the daily recommended allowance as given by the American Heart Association. Immoderate consumption of ramen noodles can trigger obesity, cancer, and a condition known as metabolic syndrome.
– Margarine, for long touted as a healthy alternative to butter, is anything but that. It is manufactured by the hydrogenation and emulsification of vegetable oils. It contains artificial colors and flavors. Hydrogenation leads to the generation of trans fats, which are unhealthy to the extent of being toxic. Polyunsaturated Omega-6 fatty acids, found in safflower oil and soybean oils that are used to prepare margarine, have been linked with heart disease.