Are Processed Foods Bad For Your Health?

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We hear all the time that processed foods are bad for your health. But why is that? Read on to find out.

• Health: Diet • Health: Food & Nutrition • Health: Weight Loss

Processed foods could be the number one reason people become unhealthy and overweight. How can we know that? When other cultures adopt a “Western” diet, they have a negative turn in their health. The change isn't in their genes, it's in the foods they eat.

So, what does “processed food” even mean? Processed foods are those that contain artificial ingredients. Ever read the ingredients label on a food item at the grocery store and see those hard-to-pronounce items? That's processed food. It's often full of man-made chemicals, preservatives, and other unnatural things.

Here are a few reasons that processed foods are bad for your health:

1. Sugar and / or high fructose corn syrup. Everyone knows that too much sugar can be bad for you. It's nothing but “empty” calories which is a big bundle of energy with no nutrients. Sugar is shown to have a negative effect on your body’s metabolism. It leads to high triglycerides, insulin resistance, increased fat in your liver, and higher bad cholesterol levels. People add sugar to everything from coffee to their breakfast cereal in large amounts. It can cause many serious diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and obesity.

2. They lead to over consumption because they are hyper-rewarding—Nature gave us taste buds, but sometimes they can do us in. We want to eat things that taste good to us and many processed foods do. We crave those salty, sweet, and fatty foods even though we know they're bad for us. Manufacturers engineer foods to taste better than anything nature can provide. Research has shown that the reward we feel we get from these foods can bypass that part of our brain that is supposed to balance how much we burn with how much we eat.

3. They're full of artificial ingredients. If you read the package labeling for many foods you probably won’t even be able to pronounce the ingredients, much less know what they are. They aren't even real food. They're artificial chemicals they put in for different reasons. Many times processed foods contain more texturants, flavors, colorants, and preservatives than actual food. Sometimes they include things they don't list because an artificial flavor can be a combination of many different chemicals.

4. People actually do become addicted to these processed foods. That “hyper-reward” feeling you get from them can have consequences that can become serious. People get out of control with processed foods because of that feeling. They want to eat more and more of it.

These key reasons alone are enough to let you know that eating processed foods can be bad for you. Eating “real” foods are the much better option.