Highly processed foods have been altered from their natural state and have little to no real nutrients. The definition of highly processed foods according to YourDictinoary.com is; manufactured products that are designed to have a long shelf-life through the addition of preservatives, coloring, additives and flavorings.
Highly processed foods provide empty calories. When eaten the body only becomes satisfied for short periods of time until wanting more of the same type of food. Highly processed foods lose almost all of their nutrients in the processing period. Whatever types of nutrients were left became dehydrate, bleach, sweeten, fatten and salted for convince purposes.
I like this quote from Andy Bellatti, Huffpost Healthy Living, “You have to ask yourself, could I make a Pop-Tart or Hot Pocket at home, with all those same ingredients listed on the package? I don’t know anyone who could do that in their home kitchen. How would you even go about procuring distilled monoglycerides and BHT, for instance? These are highly-processed food products loaded up with sugar and sodium, subjected to abusive processing conditions, and assembled with a litany of additives, many of which nobody ever consumed prior to a hundred years ago.” I say don’t eat anything that looks like a science project on the ingredients list. The less ingredients the better and the more you can read, is even better!
Here is a good example; the two pictures I provided below give you a feel of what to look for and what not to look for. See the mess of ingredients on the right? Try to stick with more of what you see on the left.
So when shopping for yourself and your family try shopping on the outside perimeter of the market. Here you will find almost all the nutrients you need including your meats, dairy, fruits, vegetables, whole grain bread and cold items. Now you won’t find everything you need here but the majority of your basket should be filled by this point. When you do go in the center aisles remember to look on the ingredient list and make sure you can read it. Try looking for the item in Organic. Yes, organic items do come prepackaged for convince reasons but just read the ingredients list and make sure the front and the back match up! Sometimes it’s better to go with something non-organic and instead all natural because processed organic foods can still be unhealthy. Look for the most wholesome, basic ingredients list you can find.
There is so much mixed controversy about food dyes and if in fact they are linked to hyperactivity and adverse affects in children. I wanted to touch a little on this topic and some of the information I found online about food dyes.
Food dyes take many names and forms, they can also be found in many unlikely places. They are listed right in black and white on the nutrition label but yet so many of us overlook these colors and numbers. Food dyes, also know as artificial coloring can be found on the back of some of your favorite snacks as shown;
- Blue 1
- Blue 2
- Green 3
- Red 3
- Red 40
- Yellow 5
- Yellow 6
- Citrus Red 2
So what are food dyes? Food dyes are made from petroleum, a liquid mixture of hydrocarbons which is present in certain rocks. This same mixture is extracted and refined to produce fuels including gasoline, kerosene, and diesel oil. Food coloring is used to improve the appearance of foods to make them more appealing to the consumers. Millions of pounds of food dyes are used each year in the United States and can be found in everything from vitamins, yogurts, cereals and oatmeal.
Food dyes have been linked to long term health problems such as cancer and one of the most recent controversies circles around ADHD in children.
In the UK most foods that contain artificial dyes must have a warning label, stating that the food may have an adverse effect on activity and attention levels in children. Numerous studies have proven that children with ADHD, behaviors worsened with the addition of artificial food dyes to the diet (Center of Science in the Public Interest, 2012).
So what can you do about food dyes? Natural dyes are a great alternative. Here are a few examples of what they would look like on the package;
- Caramel coloring (E150), made from caramelized sugar
- Annatto (E160b), a reddish-orange dye made from the seed of the achiote.
- Chlorophyllin (E140), a green dye made from chlorella algae
- Betanin (E162) extracted from beets
So decide for yourself what stand you may take. Will you allow moderation? No dyes at all? Or maybe food dyes just don’t seem to bother you. Whatever side you choose to take make sure you do your research and always be open to a little change.