Last Updated on January 26, 2023 by Lori Geurin
Processed foods are everywhere. They’re cheap, convenient, and loaded with unhealthy ingredients. If you’re trying to eat healthy, it can be tough to avoid processed foods. But it’s worth the effort! In this blog post, we’ll check out 10 processed foods to try and avoid with healthy alternatives. We’ll also take a closer look at what processed foods are and why they aren’t good for you. So read on to learn more about processed foods and how to avoid them!
- What Are Processed Foods?
- What's the Difference Between Processed and Unprocessed Food?
- Processed Foods to Avoid
- 1. Trans Fat
- 2. Added Sugar
- 3. Sodium
- 4. Refined Grains
- 5. Artificial Sweeteners and High Fructose Corn Syrup
- 6. Processed Meats
- 7. Flavored Yogurt
- 8. Frozen Dinners
- 9. Canned Soup
- What Are Ultra Processed Foods?
- How To Avoid Processed Foods
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What Are Processed Foods?
Processed foods are defined as foods that have been altered from their natural state. This can include adding or removing ingredients, changing the texture or flavor, or extending the shelf life.
Processed foods are often unhealthy because they contain harmful ingredients like trans fats, added sugar, and sodium. They can also be lacking in important nutrients like fiber and vitamins.
What’s the Difference Between Processed and Unprocessed Food?
Unprocessed foods are whole, natural, and minimally processed. They are typically healthy and nutritious. Processed foods, on the other hand, are often unhealthy and lack important nutrients.
Scientific research has shown that eating processed food can lead to weight gain, obesity, high HDL cholesterol, metabolic syndrome, and other chronic health conditions.[*]
For these reasons, it’s important to limit your intake of processed foods.
Processed Foods to Avoid
Here is a list of processed foods to avoid along with healthier options.
1. Trans Fat
These are found in many processed foods, including margarine, shortening, and processed peanut butter. Trans fat is unhealthy because they raise your LDL (bad) cholesterol and lower your HDL (good) cholesterol. They can also lead to an increased risk of heart disease, stroke, and type II diabetes.
Try using olive oil, butter, coconut oil, or avocado oil instead of margarine or shortening. You can also look for brands of peanut butter that are made with only peanuts and salt to avoid trans fats.
2. Added Sugar
Added sugar is a common ingredient in processed foods. It can be found in candy, cookies, cakes, and even some savory foods like ketchup and salad dressing. Added sugar is unhealthy because it can lead to weight gain, type II diabetes, and heart disease.
Learn more about the harmful effects of sugar in these blog posts:
- 20 Reasons Why Refined Sugar Is Bad For Your Health
- 7 Simple Tricks To Reduce Sugar Cravings More Effectively
- How to Stop Sugar Cravings Naturally: 12 Tips To Feel Better Fast
Instead of buying processed foods that contain added sugar, try making your own version at home to avoid the health risks. You can also look for foods that are naturally sweet, like fruits and vegetables.
Check out these delicious recipes for healthy snacks!
Sodium is a common ingredient in processed foods. It is used to extend the shelf life of food and to add flavor. However, sodium is unhealthy because it can raise your blood pressure and lead to heart disease.
Instead of buying processed foods that are high in sodium, try using Himalayan pink salt, sea salt, and fresh herbs and spices to flavor your food.
4. Refined Grains
Refined grains are found in many processed foods, including white bread, pasta, and pastries. They’re unhealthy because they have been stripped of their bran and germ. This process removes important nutrients like fiber and vitamins.
Instead of eating processed foods made with refined grains, try eating whole foods. You can also look for products that are made with ancient grains like quinoa and amaranth.
See 15 Easy Overnight Oats Recipes For A Healthy Morning for some delicious and healthy whole grain recipes.
5. Artificial Sweeteners and High Fructose Corn Syrup
Artificial sweeteners are often used to sweeten processed foods. They are also found in diet sodas and other sugar-free products. Artificial sweeteners are unhealthy because they can lead to weight gain, type II diabetes, and heart disease.
High fructose corn syrup is one of the most common artificial sweeteners. It is found in many processed foods, including candy, cookies, and soda. High fructose corn syrup is especially so try to avoid it as much as possible.
Instead of consuming foods and drinks containing artificial sweeteners or high fructose corn syrup, try using natural sweeteners like honey or maple syrup. You can also use stevia, a plant-based sweetener that is safe for most people.
6. Processed Meats
Processed meats are found in many processed foods, including lunch meats, hot dogs, and sausages. They’re unhealthy because they contain harmful ingredients like nitrates, and sodium. They can also lead to cancer.
Instead of eating processed meats, try eating lean meats like chicken or fish. You can also look for brands of lunch meat that are made with natural ingredients and no nitrates or sodium.
7. Flavored Yogurt
Flavored yogurt is often loaded with sugar and artificial ingredients. Eating too much sugar has been linked to weight gain, diabetes, and cancer
Instead of eating flavored yogurt, try making your own yogurt at home using plain Greek yogurt and fresh fruits. You can also look for brands of yogurt that are made with natural ingredients and no added sugar.
8. Frozen Dinners
Frozen dinners are the epitome of processed foods. They are generally unhealthy, high in sodium and preservatives, and low in nutrients. If you’re looking for a quick and easy meal, frozen dinners are not the way to go.
9. Canned Soup
Canned soup is another processed food to avoid. While it may be convenient, canned soup is often high in sodium and preservatives.
Make your own soup, stew, or chili at home using fresh ingredients. Try our sweet potato chili recipe for a delicious and healthy option.
What Are Ultra Processed Foods?
Some foods are processed a lot. This means that they may have added sugar, salt, fat, and chemicals. Ultra-processed foods are made from a lot of different ingredients that are not found in nature. They usually have a lot of added sugar, colors, flavors, unhealthy fats, and chemicals.
How To Avoid Processed Foods
When it comes to processed foods, knowledge is power. By understanding which foods are processed and which are not, you can make better choices for your health.
Processed foods are often high in sugar, sodium, and unhealthy fats. They can also be low in nutrients. By avoiding processed foods, you can improve your overall health and well-being.
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What are some of your favorite healthy alternatives to processed foods? Share in the comments below!