Processed foods typically contain added sugars, salts, preservatives, and other additives to enhance their flavor and extend their shelf-life. They also include packaged, frozen, and convenience meals that often lack dietary fiber, critical vitamins, and minerals.
Processed foods have become ubiquitous in the modern diet, and their health implications have been much discussed.
The majority of processed foods are made with refined grains and contain unhealthy trans fats and saturated fats, as well as high amounts of sodium. Processed foods are often high in calories as well.
Because processed foods have been altered from their original form, they contain fewer vitamins, minerals, and other beneficial plant compounds than their unprocessed counterparts.
Processed foods typically have lower levels of antioxidants, many of which can help reduce the risk of chronic diseases.
The cooking methods used to prepare processed foods can produce compounds detrimental to our health, such as acrylamide and advanced glycation end-products.
Studies have linked increased consumption of processed foods to an increased risk of obesity and a higher body mass index.
Processed foods also tend to be low in dietary fiber, vital for digestion, gut health, and blood sugar control.
Processed foods are generally lower in essential nutrients and can contain unhealthy ingredients, such as artificial trans fats, food starches, artificial colors, flavorings, and fillers.
Processed foods are often more tempting than healthful foods, and consuming them may set the stage for overeating, leading to weight gain over time.
High consumption of processed foods is associated with an increased risk of certain diseases, including type 2 diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, and certain types of cancer.