Foods are processed to kill the harmful bacteria and other microorganisms and to make them safe and increase their shelf life. They undergo chemical and physical treatments which make the food differ slightly from the original state. Processed food is not just sausages and burgers but also include fortified foods that have additional nutrients in order to make them healthy and better for you.
Processed foods include synthetic and additives and other preparation making it not as healthy as fresh foods. Added vitamins present in the processed foods are difficult to be absorbed by the body. When cereals are refined, the vitamins and minerals are removed from them and are replaced with less effective synthetic materials. Packed juices mostly contain fruit concentrate and added vitamin C.
On the other hand, all the processed foods are not bad, for example the milk we get is pasteurized and skimmed. Pasteurizing kills the bacteria, whereas, raw milk can sometimes cause illness. If processed food has disadvantages, it has advantages as well.
Pros of Processed Food
Processed foods have many benefits but never go by the marketing strategies of these foods.
There are various vitamins which our body can get from fortified foods. For example, vegetarians can never get vitamin B12 unless they consume fortified foods. Vitamin B12 is necessary for brain and nerve health. Though these vitamins are harder for the body to absorb, still, they are better than not getting a particular vitamin at all. Food fortification is a good way of getting vitamins and minerals important for the growth and development of the body.
As the longevity of processed food is more, they are an important back up for environmental disasters. Tinned food, for example, is prepared with a combination of freezing and vacuum in order to remove the moisture. Moisture makes a breeding ground for bacteria and spoils food. Therefore frozen foods last indefinitely. Processed foods are affordable and highly practical for the families who are in a hurry as they are easy to prepare.
Processed foods have high salt content, because of the antibacterial property which makes it ideal for preservation. Though high salt content is unhealthy, a small amount of it is crucial for the healthy functioning of the body. Occasionally eating ready to eat meal would not harm the body.
Processed foods are richer in taste. This is why they are liked by many. Also, these foods taste fresher for a longer amount of time comparatively.
Health Benefits of Processed Food
Pasteurization is necessary to prevent illness. As discussed above raw milk can sometimes cause ill effects on the body, whereas the pasteurization kills the bacteria and other infection which might be responsible for health distress.
Yogurt is another processed food which is good for the digestion. It is a probiotic, preferred by many.
Cons of Processed Food
Loss of Nutrients
Processing of food reduces the amount of naturally available nutrients and vitamins which are crucial for health. Though they are fortified with synthetic minerals and vitamin, they are hard for the body to digest. As a result, the body gets a lesser amount of nutrition if a person is dependent on processed food.
As discussed, the processed foods contain added vitamins and minerals which are difficult to absorb. Such foods have a low nutritional value. That is why eating fresh foods are still very important.
Processed foods contain excess salt, which is not good for health. This can lead to cramping, water retention, and in the extreme- heart damage.
Processed foods have a very strong taste and continuously eating strong taste food can decrease your ability to taste subtle ingredient which can prevent you from enjoying fresh foods.
Who doesn’t prefer an easier route? Processed foods are easily available and can be cooked easily. This is why they are often chosen by the people who are in a rush or low in cash. This way they might always choose processed food rather than thinking of creative ideas to eat fresh food.
Processed foods contain added fats which are bad for health. They can cause heart problems and increase cholesterol level. (1) The Trans fats present in a processed food item can cause inflammation which can lead to asthma.
Fiber which is naturally found in food is lost during processing which makes the processed food low in fiber. Eating fiber-rich food has its own sets of health benefits, which on eating processed food makes a person deprived of. Such people, later on, become dependent on other fiber products, which are habit-forming and harm health.
The flavoring of processed foods masks the original taste of the ingredients. The quality of the food is also hampered in such cases. When you eat a processed burger or meats in canned meals there would not be good cuts of meat present rather it would contain gristle or leftovers.
Processed foods have a set of benefits as well as non-beneficial properties. It is you who has to make the right choice, prioritizing your health.