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What Are Highly Processed Foods?

By Randi Morse

We are regularly told that we need to eat less processed food. But what, exactly, qualifies as processed food? The supermarkets are more full of different types of food than ever before, making it difficult for some people to discern the difference between processed food and non-processed food. And, of course, there is also minimally processed food. Let's break down the differences between non-processed food, minimally processed food, and highly processed food.

Non-Processed Food

Non-processed food, or unprocessed food, is food that is in its natural state. Think of the fruits and vegetables that you see in the produce section of your local grocery store. Things like apples, carrots, and cabbages are often non-processed. These are the best types of foods for us to eat. Non-processed foods have no additives and have not been put through any sort of pasteurization process, meaning they have no added fat or sodium.

Minimally Processed Food

There are times when food is minimally processed. Minimally processed food are foods that may have been altered by the company removing any sort of inedible parts or drying, roasting, boiling, freezing, or pasteurizing the product making them more safe to store. Canned peanuts that have salt in them are minimally processed because they have been removed from the shell, have been cooked, and have had salt added to them. Peanuts that are still in the shell and have not been roasted are unprocessed.

Highly Processed

When foods have been changed from their natural state significantly, we call those highly processed foods. Highly processed foods often have a number of ingredients added like sugar, artificial colors, preservatives, and fat. Some highly processed foods have substances extracted from them and may also contain stabilizers which allow them to be stored on a shelf for a much longer time. Great examples of highly processed foods include things like hot dogs, fast foods, frozen meals, soda, and packaged snacks.

Eating a large amount of highly processed food can significantly affect your health. They can seriously up your caloric intake and can cause extra weight gain. This is why it's a good idea to cut as many unprocessed foods from your diet as you possibly can. It may take some time to adjust, as many of us are used to eating highly processed foods on a regular basis. Cutting those foods out of your diet allows your body to work more efficiently and helps you to avoid any unnecessary weight gain. 

To learn more about your health, wellness and fitness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in North Richland Hills, Tex.

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