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“Don’t eat processed food!”
This is a common piece of advice for people who want to eat healthier . . . But food scientists understand this advice as an over-simplification of a complicated issue, and we want to help you understand what processed food really is so that you can make more informed decisions in the grocery store.
Processing is any change made to a raw agricultural product after harvest.
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Processing is just a tool, and therefore it can be used for good or for ill. . . .For example:
Processing can degrade nutritional value or create toxins: Most wheat flour and rice are consumed after milling has removed the fibrous, nutrient-filled bran layer. . . . Acrylamide is a possible human carcinogen that is produced when frying potatoes. . . .
Processing can enhance nutritional value and eliminate toxins: Government-mandated fortification of refined flour is credited with greatly reducing neural tube defects in developing infants. . . . Canning tomatoes boosts bio-available lycopene content. . . . thermal and chemical processing can also neutralize natural plant toxins. . .
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. . . . Every process we apply to food has costs and benefits.
Unfortunately, the mentality that processed foods = bad hasn’t given us less processed food as much as it’s given us reformulated processed foods. . . .brightly-colored sugary cereals made with “natural” flavors rather than artificial ones, and fruit snacks made from apple puree concentrate—which looks better on a label than “sugar” even though that’s what it is!. . . .
. . .[T]he proper response is not to shun all industrially processed foods, abandoning modern life to devote yourself to food preparation. Rather, we need to rely on other criteria—Calories, macronutrient and macronutrient composition, fiber. . .—to choose the best whole and processed foods for healthy diets.
Read full, original post: Understanding Processed Food