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Dangers of Processed Foods

Ever wonder what’s really in that hamburger or what makes those Oreos so scrumptious? Chances are that there is a long list of processed ingredients that you can’t even pronounce. Everywhere in the world, processed foods are being sold and consumed by almost everyone. Little do they know about their hidden dangers. Recent studies suggest that processed foods may be more harmful than anyone ever expected. As these studies show, processed foods are linked to many common diseases as well as health issues. We need to change our eating habits and get the processed food industry to improve its standards.

By definition, processed foods are foods that are altered from their natural state to enhance their qualities. Processed foods were created to preserve, texturize, soften, sweeten, and do much more to natural foods. Most processing factories modify their products in those ways by canning, freezing, and a few other techniques. This makes processed foods fairly convenient for the consumer, so convenient, in fact, that, according to bodyecology.com, 90% of money spent on food by Americans is on processed foods, but this convenience doesn’t come without consequences.

In processed foods, most nutritional value is lost and replaced by other chemicals and ingredients that have little or no nutritional value, which can be damaging to your health. For example, according to consumeraffairs.com, high fructose corn syrup is a common sweetener added to processed foods and is extremely unhealthy. It increases your triglyceride levels—the level of fat in your blood—and LDL, the bad type of cholesterol. An average U.S. citizen will consume 68 pounds of high fructose corn syrup every year. 68 pounds. A seven-year study conducted on 200,000 people by the University of Hawaii found that those who eat large amounts of processed meats such as hot dogs and spam have a 67% higher risk of getting cancer than those who ate little or no processed meats.

Over 6000 chemicals are used in processed foods, some of which have unknown or untested results and require no government approval, but go in the category of the Food and Drug Administration’s “Generally Recognized as Safe” list. For example, reported side effects from monosodium glutamate, a common additive, are numbness, nausea, headache, and drowsiness, and yet, it is “generally recognized as safe.” Processed foods also contain trans fats that wreck the good and bad cholesterol balance, which in turn increases a person’s risk for heart disease, cancer, and diabetes. Because no one really knows what products have what effects, every time you sit down for a meal, you are taking a potential risk.

These are a few of the many reasons why we need to lessen our consumption of processed foods. Although there are a few healthy processed foods such as pasteurized milk or canned vegetables, there are too many chances to take with all those unhealthy processed foods. According to the Washington Post, large companies such as Hershey’s and General Mills are cutting back on the amount of sugar, trans fat, and high fructose corn syrup in their products, and many other companies are raising the bar for processed food health standards. But we can’t just sit around and wait, we need to start making healthier choices now. So the next time you take a bite out of a hamburger or eat a few Oreos, think about what you’re really eating and doing to your body. Think about it.

Source by Patrick Henry

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