How processed are the foods we eat?

When you do your food shopping at the supermarket you usually know what products you are going to choose from the aisles. Have you noticed that in the aisles, most of the products are processed?

What is a processed product?

A processed product is one that, from its natural state, has been selected and had some change in its process.

Some of the stages that the products may have for their processing are: their selection, cleaning or washing, cutting, grinding, compression, heating, cooking, pasteurization, refrigeration, freezing, dehydration, drying, filtration, fermentation, canning, packaging, packaging. , to name a few.

In most cases the main ingredient is mixed with others to obtain certain desired characteristics. In any case, each product undergoes different degrees of processing, from the simplest to the most complex.

According to the classification of American Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, food processing can be located as:

-Minimally processed (eg nuts).

-Processed at maturity (eg canned or frozen fruits and vegetables).

-Foods with added ingredients to increase flavor and texture (eg sauces, dressings).

-Ready-to-eat foods (eg chips and cookies).

– Highly processed (ultra-processed) (Usually frozen convenience food or prepared food (eg frozen pizza, candy).

Sometimes it is not so easy to identify how processed a product has been, so the ideal is to check the labels to identify the ingredients they contain.

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Is it okay to eat processed foods?

It should be noted that the processing of food does not imply by itself that it makes them unhealthy, since in some cases it is necessary to make them safe, as is the case of milk and its derivatives with the pasteurization process.

Another advantage of food processing is that it can be added or fortified with desirable nutrients such as vitamins and minerals.

However, in other cases, depending on the type of process the food undergoes, favorable properties may be lost.

When processing food, a certain safety is obtained due to handling and hygiene standards, as well as the ease and immediacy of its consumption, unlike obtaining the ingredient in its natural state.

In general, highly processed foods are the ones that should be avoided to be consumed in large portions and/or frequently due to the added ingredients and the amounts that they may contain of these, some of the added elements that are associated with being counterproductive to health can to be:

– Salt / monosodium glutamate.

– Sugars / high fructose corn syrup.

– Saturated fat / trans fat.

-Artificial flavors and colors.


–Other additives.

Regulate your consumption of processed foods

Consuming processed foods has many advantages as well as possible risks, which is why each food will have a different position.

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In this case, by regularly checking the labels of the food you eat, you will be able to find out its composition.

The best thing would be to restrict it to special occasions and give priority to those that give you the most and affect the least in the long term.

Source: Harvard Medical School, Mayo Clinic.

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