Highlights

  • Chips, soda, whole-wheat bread, bagged veggies are all processed foods
  • Minimally processed items like fortified foods, pasteurised dairy are ok to eat
  • Foods loaded with salt, sugar & additives are the real danger for health

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What are processed foods? Realistic tips to reduce your processed food intake

Consumption of processed foods can increase your risk of obesity, type-2 diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease and more!

Processed foods have a pretty bad reputation in the health world. Studies have shown that consuming such foods can increase your risk of obesity, type-2 diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease and more! 

So, what are processed foods? 

By definition, any food that has been cooked, canned, frozen, packaged or changed in nutritional composition by fortification, preservation or prepped in a different way can be considered  ‘processed food.’ 

SEE MORE Ultra-processed foods increase all-cause mortality risk by 26%: study

Boxed meals, potato chips, sodas are all categorised under this food group. But even whole-wheat bread or a pack of chopped veggies are under the umbrella of processed food. 

Are all processed foods bad for health?  

Not all processed food is bad news. Minimally processed items such as roasted nuts, bagged veggies or pasteurised dairy can form a part of a balanced diet. Fortified foods like milk or iodized salt can help you eat more nutrient-dense foods.  

The problematic processed foods are generally loaded with salt, sugar and unnecessary additives. Convenient and heavily marketed, it can get pretty hard to avoid unhealthy processed foods. 

SEE MORE Ultra-processed food may increase risk of diabetes

Here are some realistic ways to reduce your processed food intake:  

Start shopping better

The easiest way to reduce consumption is by not buying them. Fill up your grocery cart with fresh, minimally processed and whole foods like fruits, vegetables, grains and legumes. Try to avoid the colourful aisles of packaged foods as much as possible.

Replace fancy drinks

You really don’t need a pretty drink with every meal. Switch sugary beverages like soda, sweet teas, fruit juice or energy drinks for a glass of water. You can infuse some fruits or herbs to flavour your water.

Say no to processed ‘whites’

Swap your white rice, pasta, bread for whole-grain alternatives like brown rice, and wheat pasta or bread. Switch your boxed cereal with oatmeal. Whole grains are tastier, high in fibre and keep you full for longer.

Keep it slow & steady

Whether you decide to cook some meals at home or healthify your pantry – it is probably not the best idea to cold turkey overnight. You are much more likely to stick to your new routine if you make gradual changes and allow your body and taste buds to adjust to the new habits.

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