Health Risks of Processed Foods

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Health-risks-of-Processed-FoodsProcessed foods are any foods that have been altered, packaged or preserved for convenience. Typical examples include a frozen dinner, luncheon meat, canned soup or your breakfast cereal. Any food that is delivered to your table from a box, can, bag or carton has been processed and modified to extend its shelf life often resulting in reduced nutritional value. Processed foods are usually high in calories, sodium and artificial ingredients and additives.

Processed foods have been associated with a variety of chronic diseases and health conditions that plague the modern World.

Here are four health risks linked to processed foods:

Obesity – The World Health Organization (WHO) blames processed foods for the sharp rise in obesity seen worldwide. Those who eat processed foods over natural foods consume on average over 160 more calories daily which over the course of a year translates into 16 pounds of extra weight. Processed foods are often cheap, readily available, high-calorie and low-quality products.

Diabetes – A bowl of processed breakfast cereal acts exactly like a bowl of sugar when consumed. What little cereal not covered in sugar is immediately converted to sugar as it is digested. Our brains grow dependent on a continuous supply of sugar (glucose) and is the main reason we crave sugar and consume large quantities. This constant high level of sugar causes damage to tissues, insulin resistance and eventually diabetes.

Heart Disease – Many processed foods contain trans fatty acids (TFAs), a dangerous type of fat, that according to the American Heart Association directly increases the risk of heart disease. Most processed foods are also extremely high in sodium (salt) another added risk to the heart. Excess sodium increases blood pressure thereby increasing your risk of heart disease and stroke.

Cancer – In a seven-year study following the dietary patterns of 200,000 subjects by the University of Hawaii, researchers found that people who ate processed meats daily (hot dogs, luncheon meats and sausage) had a 67 percent higher risk of pancreatic cancer than those who ate little or no processed meat products. Men whose eating patterns included processed meats, red meat, organ meats, refined grains and vegetable oils had a significantly higher risk (2.5X) of prostate cancer than men who did not eat these processed products.

Food Additives – The Food and Drug Administration monitors a list of over 3,000 chemicals that are added to processed foods. These chemicals are used to add color, stabilize, texturize, preserve, sweeten, thicken, add flavor, soften or emulsify processed foods. Potential side effects from these additives may include numbness, headaches, chest pain, rapid heartbeat and difficulty breathing.

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