Processed Food

We live in a world of Super Markets. If you are not already, the chances are that in the next decade supermarkets will be your destination for almost all your shopping for food. One of the goals of a supermarket is to provide a superior shopping experience which would make you buy more. Processed foods help supermarkets meet this aim. Processed food is any food that has been altered from its natural state before consumption. The degree of processing can vary from simply cutting and packing say spinach to the preparation of bread from a variety of ingredients.

Processing is necessary for certain foods. For example, pasteurised milk is beneficial. Often, processing can include a range of actions including bleaching, adding chemicals, adding salt, sugar, vegetable oils, preservatives, artificial sweeteners, colours and wax. In several cases, harsh chemicals are used to extract the end product. Many vegetable oils for example. The objectives are to reduce the cost of manufacturing, increase the appeal of the product or make you consume more. In most such cases, this ends up making the product unhealthy. Adding significant amounts of salt or sugar to appeal to your taste buds for example. Also, many processed foods come with trans-fats which can raise your cholesterol levels increasing the risk of cardiac ailments.

The first step toward addressing the risk of processed food is to read the label. Labels can be confusing. Often, they provide information in units that are not reflective of the serving size. Do the math, however; it will save your life. Be wary of food that has over 15% fat, over 5% saturated fat, over 20% sugar, and over 1% salt. Look for foods that contain hydrogenated oil and trans-fats. Also look for preservatives. If the ingredient sounds esoteric, look it up. It probably has a strange name because the manufacturer wants to mask the element. You are smarter than they hope, aren’t you?


Ritesh is a born again health enthusiast and holds a Certificate in Physiology from Harvard Medical School and a Certificate in Nutrition from Tufts University.