Processed food are the foods whose properties are altered by man made activity. For example addition of adulterants, mask the inferior quality, Substitution of better item with inferior constituents. It does not depend from which area we belong to, or from which category of age.
All of us directly depend upon food to survive. Around us there is a variety of food. Among them we have to choose the best of all. So, the choice should be wise enough.
The two main Classes of food we commonly see are
The natural state of the food is the unprocessed state of food. Unprocessed food is rich in fibers and they are very important for good working of our digestive system.
They also help to lower our body weight and reduces the risk of many diseases.
Unprocessed foods also have low sodium content as compared to processed ones’.
Un processed food is healthy and more nutritious than processed food because unprocessed food is close to its natural state.
Researches have shown that the use of highly processed food has increased the risk of obesity, cardiovascular diseases and diabetes type 2, specially by the entry of sugar and white flour in food supply chain.
So, by the use of un processed food we can protect ourselves from such dangerous diseases. In this way we can enjoy the natural taste of different foods.
Minimally Processed Food
Minimally processed foods may have a very low amount of additives and are considered as safe.
We should use them and give them priority over ultra-processed foods as they are not much harmful and have little side effects as compared to ultra-processed foods.
Highly Processed Food
Highly processed foods contain a high amount of additives and adulterants, they are usually considered as unsafe.
Most highly processed foods contain the foods that are available in prepared form and before eating we have to do a very little work to them e.g, PIZZA that is available in prepared form and we can just heat it in micro wave and can eat it.
The nutritional profile of the food is badly affected highly processed food.
Eating such processed foods can increase the weight and also increases the risk of diseases. They also offer a lot of calories in every bite.
They do not make us feel full completely. Such foods contain a high amount of refined sugars, saturated fats and salt.
Ultra processed foods are not made keeping the health of people in mind.
The manufacturers are just concerned with the taste, shelf life, variety and attraction of food.
But not all the processed foods are doing this. It depends upon which type of preservatives and chemicals we are using during the processing.
Processed Food Are Seen Everywhere
Yes, it is a fact that processed foods are seen everywhere in our daily life.
Processed foods have taken a large part in our food cart. We cannot avoid them completely in our daily lives but we can choose them wisely.
The Reasons We Can Use Processed Foods
We cannot neglect the importance of processed foods.
Processing of food makes the food edible. It provides us a large variety of foods.
So, we don’t feel fed up of same type of food eating again and again.
In some cases it is also used to increase the nutritional value of the food. Food processing is also done for preservation of food.
We Can’t Avoid Processing
We can’t avoid processing in some food items for example in meat. Processing of meat is important as we can’t eat it in its natural state.
But the thing that should be clear in our minds about processing is that too much food processing is not good for health.
Because it can remove much of the useful nutrient contents of the food. e.g, Water-soluble vitamins, fibers etc.
Most Common Type of Food Processing
The most common processing of food is done daily in our kitchens, where we wash our vegetables, peel them and cut them into small pieces. Up to here the food is called as minimally processed.
But when we cook the vegetables, or boil them using water, adding oil and other ingredients into it ,the vegetables are now called as properly processed.
Why Vegetables Should Be Cooked
Cooking of vegetables makes them edible, tasty and also increase the availability of phytochemicals.
Phytochemicals are important for a good health. Cooking of vegetables make them attractive and presentable.
Undesirable changes during cooking of vegetables: reviewing your cooking process
Problem 1.We peeled the vegetable, the nutrient content that are mostly close to the surface of it are lost .
Solution: For this , excessive peeling should be avoided.
Problem 2. if we boiled the particular vegetable say potatoes, then the vitamins ( B and C) would move to the boiling water.
In our daily routine we drain that boiling water and thus we loose these vitamins from our food.
Solution: We can retain these water-soluble vitamins by using that boiled water for making some soup stuff.
In this way , processing of vegetables is done along with the retention of vitamins and nutrients.
What We Can Do
Food effects our metabolism, genes and our brain responses. It is a basic need of every single soul in this planet.
So we should be very much responsible for our food selection. In our daily routine we have to use unprocessed , minimally processed and ultra –processed foods.
We just cannot neglect any one of them completely, but we can make our priority list.
- Our first priority should be unprocessed foods.
- Second priority should be minimally processed foods.
- Third priority should be highly processed foods.
Written by Rimsha Altaf (BSc Hons) Institute of Food and Nutritional Sciences, PMAS-Arid Agriculture University Rawalpindi.