Green Tips: What's Wrong with Processed Foods

Processed foods are foods that have been altered from their natural states in order to extend their shelf life. They are often poor quality and usually cheap.

Processed foods are foods that have been altered from their natural states in order to extend their shelf life.  Foods that come in a box, can, bag or carton are processed. They are often poor quality and usually cheap.  About 90% of the money Americans spend on food is used to buy “edible foodlike substances” as Michael Pollen, well-known author of The Omnivore’s Dilemma and professor, calls them.

Processed foods have been implicated in most of today’s chronic diseases and health conditions such as obesity, diabetes, heart disease and cancer.  What makes processed foods so bad?  Many processed foods contain trans fats (or hydrogenated) a dangerous type of fat, which raises the bad cholesterol and lowers the good.  

Most processed foods are extremely high in salt, which is also not good for the heart and addictive.

Have you ever tried to eat just one potato chip?! 

Another addictive ingredient you'll find in processed foods is high fructose corn syrup, linked to obesity and diabetes. Sugar is burned and turned into energy; high fructose corn syrup turns into fat. Potato chips and French fries often contain Acrylamide, a carcinogenic substance that forms when foods are heated at high temperatures, such as during baking or frying.

Processed foods also contain a lot of additives. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) maintains a list of over 3,000 chemicals that are added to the processed food supply to add color, stabilize, texturize, preserve, sweeten, thicken, etc.  Some of these additives have never been tested for safety and require no government approval.  They belong to the FDA's "Generally Recognized as Safe" list.

So what should we eat?  As with anything moderation is the key, so limit your intake of processed foods and eat whole foods.  As Michael Pollen says, keep it simple - don’t eat anything your grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food.  Eat only foods that have been cooked by humans, not corporations. Always read the label and choose wisely.  

Click here to see which fruits and vegetables to buy organic: http://betsywild.wordpress.com/2010/03/23/the-dirty-dozen-and-the-clean-fifteen/

Information compiled from SixWise.com; report by Lorie Johnson, CBN News Medical Reporter and Food Rules by Michael Pollen.

For more green tips, visit greenwithbetsy.com.

Bob Kaplan December 05, 2011 at 09:22 AM
BAV: There is disagreement in the scientific community. That's how science is supposed to work. There was no implication of saturated fat in the article nor was their any finger-pointing in this article about obesity being a behavioral disorder, so I'm not sure what your basis is for insinuating we disagree on these issues? Betsy: sugar and high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) are virtually synonymous. Most high fructose corn syrup is 55% fructose and 42% glucose, while sugar, or sucrose is 50% fructose and glucose. Sucrose goes through the same biochemical processes and pathways in the body that HFCS does.
BAV December 05, 2011 at 12:20 PM
Betsy's article was fine, as were yours. However, a couple of key points she made were is sharp contract to you. Instead of asking that we the ignorant public sort out this mess, it up to you the experts to sort through and come to a consensus. There is a reason studies are published in journals so that experts can review, and generally not in the newspapers. That is the way science works, not in the court of public opinion. She wrote: "Processed foods have been implicated in most of today’s chronic diseases and health conditions such as obesity, diabetes, heart disease and cancer" You implied that saturated fats were not dangerous, and that obesity was not due to what you eat. What should we believe?
Bob Kaplan December 05, 2011 at 12:32 PM
Hi BAV! I am implying that obesity ABSOLUTELY has to do to do with WHAT you eat. I would also suggest that processed foods and saturated fats are not synonymous. A coconut and a salmon are not the same thing as a doughnut and a Cupcake (and they contain different ingredients, and can you guess what's different about them?).
Betsy Wild December 05, 2011 at 02:14 PM
You are what you eat. I advocate eating whole, real food grown in nature and not a chemical lab. Keep it simple and remember, everything in moderation.
Betsy Wild December 05, 2011 at 02:21 PM
And yes you do need fats, the good fats, found in salmon and other fatty fish, olive oil, coconut oil, nuts, even real butter.


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