Food processing increases palatability, edibility, and the shelf life of food. Some processing methods often cause or introduce health hazards or removes nutrients that could be essential or beneficial to our health.
Some processed food items include rice, fish, meat, beverages, and bread.
It's no news to us that the methods of processing have caused a lot of health hazards because of various chemicals and additives that are added for preservation. Such additives include nitrate sulfites sodium benzoate e.t.c.
Before we go further I will like us to know the meaning of processed food.
What then is processed food?
Processed food is any food that has been altered in some way during preparation. It includes food that has been cooked, frozen, packaged, or changed in nutritional composition with fortifying, preserving, or preparing in different ways.
Food processing techniques have advanced remarkably, gone are the days, when food processing techniques were only limited to cooking, salting, and smoking but in the 19th-century canning and milk, pasteurization method was developed due to the increased grain production in the 18th century.
Nowadays in developed countries, most individuals own appliances such as refrigerators and freezers to store processed foods while others own modern devices such as food dehydrators or vacuum sealers for processing their food.
Nutritional Quality Of Processed Foods
You will agree with me that for any food injected into the body what matters most is the nutritional value or quality of that food and the effect of the food on our health.
The health effect of processed food is influenced by many factors.
Some of these factors include:
1. How fresh they are.
2. Where they originated from.
3. How safe they were processed.
4. The techniques used to grow the plant or raise the animal.
5. Form which processed foods are made from can also affect the nutritional quality.
Examples Of Processed Food
We will also be looking at some examples of processed foods.
Here we will be classifying processed food base on the extent to which it has been processed.
Therefore processed food may be classified as
1. Minimally processed foods includes foods which are vital for healthy eating including washed and packaged fruits and vegetables, roasted nuts e.t.c
2. Ready to eat foods which include breakfast cereals, bread, biscuits, processed meats, cooked meat, and beverages like soft drinks and fruit juices.
3. Combined foods which include sauces, spice mixes, cake, and cookie mixes, and instant potato.
4. Food preserved to enhance nutritional quality or safety includes fruits and vegetables, frozen or canned fish, beans e.t.c.
5. Ready to eat meals includes pies, pizzas, and delicious meals.
Health Risks Of Processed Foods
Processed food which is high in salt, sugar and saturated fat have health risk and overconsumption of such processed food may lead to
2. Cardiovascular diseases and
3. Type 2 diabetes.
Due to the health risks of processed foods, some processed foods and beverages to avoid or consume in moderation are
1. Sugary beverages
2. Confectionary which includes your chocolate which is high in energy and sugar.
3. Biscuits, cake, and pastries have high sugar content.
4. Sausages and processed meats that are high in saturated fat are often salt too.
5. Pizza, burgers, and fried foods contain few nutrients and are energy-dense due to their high-fat content.
It is not my intention to make the case that junk food is evil or it's to be avoided at all costs.
A continuous diet of only junk food will certainly affect your well-being and your long-term risk of diseases.
My recommendation to you all is that if you are to eat smoked meats or processed meat or fish, have them in small amounts and less often.
And do not add salt to these foods at the table or in cooking.