Processed foods have been created mainly for convenience and some of the ingredients in these products may not be safe or healthy for us. Processed foods are more convenient because if we don’t finish the product or don’t consume it we don’t have to worry about it spoiling anytime soon as the packaging and ingredients prevent bacteria from forming and keep the food edible but can these extra ingredients and packaging have a health risk. Altering the product can have a different effect in our bodies and how we process them. There is a debate whether processed foods are good or bad for us but it just comes down to the product. Therefore, it’s important for us to know the foods we are going to consume and if some of those ingredients pose a health concern. Diet soda is thought to be a better and healthier choice but the artificial sweetener can actually cause more harm, so it’s neither better nor healthier. Artificial sweeteners can trick 1
our bodies into thinking its consuming sugar, but once we do consume real sugars our bodies aren’t sure whether to process the sugar so this can cause a health effect such as metabolic confusion and over consumption. Research has been done by the University of Virginia in Richmond showing that artificial sweeteners could confuse the body’s intake in calories which would lead to over eating. Artificial sweeteners are mainly used by people who are on diets and diabetics also it doesn’t contribute to tooth decay and cavities. These artificial sweeteners can be great for diabetics since they need to control their sugar intake this allows them to have more control on foods they consume.(nearly 26 million people in American have diabetes) Another processed food which is debated is Margarine such as the product “I can’t believe it’s not butter”. The soft margarine that comes in containers is made from vegetable oils and has less saturated fat than standard butter and stick margarine. People who mainly use stick margarine on their foods have a higher risk of getting heart disease because it contains Tran’s fats so this causes a decrease in good cholesterol in the body. Soft margarine can be a better alternative but it depends on 2
which margarine we buy and consume. Stick Margarine is actually worse for a person’s cholesterol than soft margarine and butter but between the two soft margarine is better as long as the labeling says no Tran’s fats. Food manufacturers mainly use trans fat in their products but now that we see the health risks from consuming trans fats companies started cutting back on using them because of the potential health risks. Trans fat has been linked with health risks such as high cholesterol and puts us more at risk for heart disease.
Trans Fat is a man made substance that is a mixture of hydrogen gas and vegetable oil, this makes the oil have a longer shelf life, makes the food taste better, is cheaper and enhances flavor. These are the main reasons manufacturers use trans fat in their products. When a product says no trans fat there is still a possibility it may contain trans fats because products are legally allowed to put no trans fats in their product if their serving portions contain less than 0.5 grams of trans fats. It’s recommended not to consume more than 2 grams of Tran fats per day and in products that say no trans fats we should check the ingredients in the label to see if it contains hydrogenated oils to make sure it has no trans fats.
Processed foods tend to contain high fructose corn syrup because of its sweet taste, low cost to make and is great at mixing with other ingredients. High fructose corn syrup is still being looked into if it has any health concerns or affects our metabolism. Although high fructose corn syrup chemical composition is similar to regular sugar it can’t be broken down as easily than regular sugars. Companies began using High fructose corn syrup since 1977 when the price of sugar increased and government regulations kept the price of corn low so High Fructose corn syrup is seen as a more economical substitute. The U.S and Canada have the highest price of sugar, it’s twice the as much as the global price. Marketing campaigns by corn industries have tried giving high fructose corn syrup a good name by saying its all natural since it’s made from corn because of all the negative feedback from the press. Although these Corn companies are calling it “Natural” it really doesn’t mean much as Natural isn’t really regulated by the FDA.
When we look at labels in processed foods we tend not to look at the sodium content which can be a bad thing if we consume too much of it in order to maintain a healthy diet. Sodium is a main ingredient in processed foods because it enhances the sugars flavor, increases the shelf life of foods, and prevents bacteria from forming. The average person consumes 50 percent more sodium than what is recommended daily. In our diets 75 percent of sodium we consume daily comes from processed foods and most of the excess salts we consume are coming from processed foods. We tend to think that because a food has a product that is healthy or natural it’s going to be good for us but once it becomes processed it adds all sorts of other ingredients or takes away the nutritional value.
Processed food companies try to make their products appear healthy but add other ingredients which were better off eating the regular version. Yogurt is an example which companies label them as fat-free or low fat and they are but substitute the fats for sugars to make them better tasting but just causes more weight gain as a result. Milk is a good type of processed food which makes it safer for us to consume. When milk is processed it goes through a stage where it is pasteurized and homogenized. The Pasteurization kills the bacteria in the milk and homogenization prevents the fats from separating.
The Packaging in which processed foods are held in can have a health risk for us due to the BPA found in them. Traces of BPA can be found in canned foods and in products packaged in plastic. BPA can lead to heart disease, cancer and development issues, but has a bigger impact on younger children. Traces of BPA is found in 90 percent of Americans and we are getting them from the packaging in these foods.
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