As technological developments were coupled with population growth and a number of other factors, humans started to create processed foods to better meet their nutritional needs. Processed foods are generally considered to be foods that are altered from their natural state, and most often people consider them to be unhealthy in general.
Processed foods are technically those that have been altered through a process of preserving, canning, refrigerating, filtering, dehydrating or any number of similar processes. In the case of most processed foods, there are fewer nutrients readily available than there would be for most other types of foods. These foods may also be more difficult for your body to digest as well. However, there are some processed foods that are generally thought of as healthy.
Processed Foods and Health Risks
There are a number of reasons why some processed foods are unhealthy in comparison with their fresh equivalents. In the case of canned vegetables and soups, for instance, there is oftentimes a great deal of sodium added to the normal nutrients of the food itself. This outbalances any nutritional benefit that those foods would have and puts you, your heart and other parts of your body at risk of serious damage. Other processed foods are sweetened with sweeteners like high fructose corn syrup or refined sugars. These sweeteners are oftentimes responsible for increasing glucose levels and causing a number of potential health risks, including obesity, diabetes and other related conditions.
Healthy Processed Foods
In some cases, the processing that goes into making foods that are available at this point in time is actually beneficial, and processed foods may be safer to eat than their alternatives. One case in particular is milk. Milk is both pasteurized and homogenized before it is delivered to a grocery store to be sold. Pasteurization is a process that kills any bacteria that would naturally exist in the milk. Homogenization helps to keep the fats and other ingredients in the milk from separating out unnecessarily. Both of these processes serve to make milk that you purchase in a supermarket be safer for you than raw, unprocessed milk. The same can be said of apple cider and certain other beverages.
Another processing method that helps to make the food healthier is done to many meat products. These meats are taken through an antimicrobial process that helps to kill any bacteria before the meat comes available to you. This translates into a lower risk of potential health problems and infections that could result from eating the meat otherwise.
Frozen fruits and vegetables are generally healthy processed foods, provided that they aren’t loaded up with artificial sweeteners. These foods are not quite as healthy as their fresh equivalents. However, they do a good job of retaining certain nutrients, vitamins and minerals and can be a useful way of storing these foods for later use, when fresh fruits and vegetables are not necessarily available.