Calories Aren't The Only Reason These Foods Torpedo Health

Processed foods are notoriously unhealthy because they contain lots of refined carbohydrates, sugars, fat and artificial ingredients. What’s more, they have very little nutritional value. As if that isn’t enough to malign convenience and packaged foods, a new study shows that people who eat processed foods eat more and weigh more than those who eat a minimally processed diet.

People who regularly eat processed foods are more likely to overeat and weigh more than those who eat primarily fresh foods, according to a recent study. The calories consumed from fresh foods are friendlier than those consumed from processed foods. This means that eating processed foods can cause weight gain even if caloric intake is regulated. 

Processed Foods Make You Eat More

A recent study found that people who ate processed foods consumed, on average, an additional 500 calories per day. Study participants were given instructions to eat foods that contained the same amount of calories, sugars, fiber, fat and carbohydrates at each meal. However, one group consumed only fresh foods, while the other consumed processed foods. The latter group consumed more and gained an average of two pounds over a two-week period. Participants from the first group lost weight.

While researchers are not sure why people eat more processed foods than fresh foods, they believe the lower amount of protein found in processed foods may play a role. 

Calories from Processed Foods Hit Harder

A calorie is a calorie, right? Not necessarily. Some calories hit harder than others. For example, foods that are hard to digest, such as whole grains, require more energy to break down. Processed foods require less energy to break down. This means that fresh foods could have fewer net calories than processed foods once you subtract calories burned during digestion. The bottom line is that processed foods could have more net calories than healthier options.

How to Reduce Consumption of Processed Foods

To reduce or eliminate processed foods from your diet, choose fresh foods whenever possible. Avoid packaged food and processed meat, such as sausages and hot dogs. When it comes to grains and pasta, choose whole-grain products over “white” products. Plan your meals ahead, and be sure that half of each meal is made up of fresh vegetables and fruit. Remember, homemade is always better, so look for ways you can create your favorite processed snacks at home. 

It is difficult for some to stop eating processed foods entirely. If this is the case for you, take strides to eat fresh and healthy when you can and as often as you can. Each time you choose fresh foods over processed foods, you take a step toward better health.  

6/24/2019 10:09:49 PM
Wellness Editor
Written by Wellness Editor
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