The Low Down on Processed Foods
Many Americans have trouble understanding why their beloved processed junk foods are so bad. They are so delicious; how could they not be good for our bodies? The human body thrives best from a diet consisting of 90% real foods, which are those that have single ingredients with no chemical processing. The other 10% can be sparingly made up of processed foods. No doubt, you've heard that processed foods are high in sugar, high fructose corn syrup, artificial ingredients and trans fats, but let's look at these foods from the other side of things. Here are some important health elements:
Low in Energy
Processed foods have a quality, "vanishing calorie density", which contributes to their melt-in-your-mouth addiction-causing taste. These foods require very little chewing action and they digest quickly; therefore, they take very little energy to eat. That way, we can eat more of them in the long run, but we also burn less energy (calories) digesting them.
Low in Fiber
The Institute of Medicine recommends we get between 25-38 grams of fiber per day, depending on gender and age (men require more than women; younger people require more than older people). However, most Americans are getting half those recommended amounts,. because processed foods offer little or no fiber at all. Fiber is essential to helping the body lower cholesterol levels, regulate blood sugar, maintain bowel health, and manage weight. Fiber can be found in plant-based foods, such as beans or legumes, whole grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds.
Low in Nutrients
In addition to being low in energy and fiber, processed foods are nutrient-deficient. Oftentimes, food manufacturers add in synthetic nutrients after processing, but these "fake" nutrients are not the same in quality as would be found in real, whole, unprocessed foods. The more processed, junk food you eat, the less your body gets of valuable vitamins, nutrients, antioxidants, and other trace nutrients.
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