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Cut Down on Processed Foods

By Sara Butler

Processed foods are everywhere. In fact, most foods are processed in some way, which makes avoiding them really difficult to do. But there are some easy ways to cut down on the processed foods in your diet. Here are some tips to help you control and cut down on the processed foods in your diet.

Processed Foods: What Are They?

Foods are considered processed if they are changed in any way from their natural form. It can be something as basic as cutting up and freezing fruit, canning vegetables, or even roasting nuts. Of course, some processing of food can be far more dramatic, stripping foods of nutrients and changing their nutritional profile, as what happens when breakfast cereals or biscuits are made.

Processing foods isn't necessarily a bad thing, as foods such as olive oil is processed but still remain healthy for you. In fact, milk is pasteurized to make it safe to consume and that counts as processing.

What Makes Processed Foods Unhealthy?

Adding saturated fats, sugar, and salt to foods as they're processed is what makes them unhealthy. These things are often added to processed foods to make them more appealing to eat and to help them stay shelf-stable for longer periods of time. However, these ingredients also make them unhealthy for you, especially when it comes to heart health.

How to Eat Fewer Processed Foods

There are several ways you can cut down on unhealthy processed foods in your diet. You should:

  • Shop smart - When you're at the store, make sure to buy whole foods such as fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein. Try to make about half of what you buy fresh fruits and vegetables, even if they're canned or frozen. Just keep an eye on sodium.
  • Be a home cook - A lot of food you get when you eat out at restaurants, especially fast food, are highly processed. If you make sure to cook at home from scratch, then you can cut down on the processed foods you get quite a bit.
  • Snack wisely - Snacks foods are really processed, so swapping out highly processed snacks for whole foods is a great way to reduce the number of processed foods in your life. Instead of granola bars, try seeds or nuts. Instead of chips, try popcorn or vegetables with hummus.

Processed foods aren't all bad, but it's important to know which kind of processed foods to enjoy and which to avoid.

To learn more about your health, wellness, and fitness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in Northbrook, Ill.

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