We normally tend to think of processed foods as bad, but it turns out that many processed foods are not unhealthy, example processed milk, frozen vegetables, fruit and vegetable juices.
Still, many processed foods are made with trans fats, saturated fats, and large amounts of sodium and sugar and should be avoided or at least eaten sparingly. Such foods include:
- Canned foods with lots of sodium
- White breads and pastas made with refined white flour, which are not as healthy as those made with whole grains
- Packaged high-calorie snack foods, like chips and cheese snacks
- High-fat convenience foods, like cans of ravioli
- Frozen fish sticks and frozen dinners
- Packaged cakes and cookies
- Boxed meal mixes
- Sugary breakfast cereals
- Processed meats such as hot dogs, bologna, sausage and ham.
In some instances, processing can be a good thing, e.g. cooking, which makes food more digestible or flour (processed wheat) makes the food more versatile, accessible, and edible.
Certain processing practices help prevent food from spoiling or from being decimated by pests and may even help preserve the food's nutritional value.
But oftentimes, choosing foods that have been only minimally processed is your best bet for optimizing nutrition.
No single food is rich in all the nutrients so variety of food should be included to fulfill all the requirements of the body as far as nutrients are concerned. When the food consumed does not fulfill the requirements of nutrients, it leads to malnutrition or under nutrition.