Processed foods are convenient, tasty, and often inexpensive, making them popular among busy people. However, pre-packaged snacks, frozen dinners, and ready-made foods are often loaded with calories, sugar, salt, fat, and additives. All of which spell bad news for your health.
The more you consume these foods and the added sugars, salts, and additives, the more your risk for health issues increases. Some dangers associated with eating processed foods include heart disease, stroke, diabetes, obesity, and cancer. Protect yourself by avoiding these processed foods, or at least limiting how often you eat them:
Canned Soups and Stews
Most canned soups and stews are high in sodium, which can raise your blood pressure over time. Additionally, many canned soups contain monosodium glutamate (MSG), a flavor enhancer that can cause headaches, central nervous system disorder, reproduction malfunction, and other health issues when consumed in large amounts.
Making your soups and stews is a much healthier alternative to canned soups and stews. Homemade soups and stews are lower in sodium, fat, calories, and preservatives than their canned counterparts. You can enjoy the same delicious flavor without the risk of health problems associated with too much sodium or MSG.
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Cakes and Pastries
Cakes and pastries are typically made with refined sugars, trans fats, preservatives, and artificial flavorings. These ingredients can cause inflammation and increase your risk of developing chronic illnesses like diabetes and heart disease. Additionally, cakes and pastries are often high in calories, which can lead to weight gain over time.
Instead of buying processed cakes and pastries, make your healthier version at home. Use whole wheat flour and natural sweeteners like honey or dates for added nutrition and flavor. You can also reduce the sugar in the recipe to make a healthier treat. An occasional indulgence is okay, but try to limit your consumption of cakes and pastries.
Ice cream is an iconic summertime treat high in calories, fat, and sugar. Most store-bought ice creams are made with artificial flavorings, preservatives, and stabilizers that can be harmful when consumed in large amounts over time.
Opt for homemade frozen yogurt instead if you want to enjoy a creamy treat without the adverse side effects. Homemade frozen yogurt is lower in calories, fat, and sugar than traditional ice cream, plus it contains beneficial probiotics that can help boost your digestive health.
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Biscuits and Crackers
Biscuits and crackers are often high in sodium and preservatives, making them unhealthy snacks. Store-bought biscuits and crackers may also contain trans fats, which can increase your risk of developing heart disease.
Some brands of biscuits and crackers are healthier than others, so always read the nutrition label before you buy. Opt for whole grain varieties whenever possible, as these contain more fiber and nutrients than their refined grain counterparts. You can make your crackers with whole wheat flour, olive oil, and other natural ingredients.
Most breakfast cereals are high in sugar and refined carbohydrates, making them a poor choice for your morning meal. Also, many cereal brands contain artificial colors and flavors that can harm your health when consumed in large amounts.
Instead of buying store-bought cereal, opt for natural oatmeal or homemade granola made with whole grains, nuts, and seeds. These breakfast staples are lower in sugar than processed foods and provide a good source of fiber and other essential nutrients.
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Soda and Other Sugary Drinks
Soda and other sugary drinks are loaded with empty calories, artificial sweeteners, and preservatives that can harm your health. Drinking too many of these beverages can lead to weight gain, tooth decay, diabetes, and other health problems.
Rather than indulging in sugary drinks, choose healthier alternatives like green tea, sparkling water, or freshly-squeezed juice to keep your body energized and healthy. These drinks are lower in calories and contain antioxidants that can benefit your health. Whenever possible, avoid sweetened beverages, as they can contribute to weight gain over time.
French fries are a popular snack but are not the healthiest option. Most store-bought varieties are fried in unhealthy trans-fat oils, making them high in calories and saturated fat. These fatty foods can increase your risk of developing obesity and heart disease.
If you want to enjoy this food occasionally, choose baked fries instead. Baked fries are lower in fat and calories than fries and contain more fiber and other nutrients. Better yet, make your healthier version of french fries at home with olive oil and fresh herbs.
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Margarine is often touted as a healthier alternative to butter, but it’s high in trans fats and preservatives. The overconsumption of these unhealthy fats can be detrimental to your health, as they may increase your chances of developing cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, and stroke.
Rather than settling for margarine, try natural, unsaturated fats like olive oil and coconut oil in your cooking or baking. Your body will thank you! These fats are much healthier than margarine and provide essential nutrients and antioxidants that can benefit your body.
Frozen Dinner Meals
Frozen dinners may seem convenient for busy days, but they are often loaded with sodium, preservatives, and unhealthy fats. Consuming an excessive amount of these meals can be detrimental to your health, resulting in weight gain and other medical issues.
Instead of relying on frozen meals, opt for fresh or homemade alternatives that contain fewer additives and plenty of vitamins and minerals. Also, prepare your meals in advance so you can heat them quickly on busy days, ensuring you get nutritious, balanced meals that can keep you energized throughout the day.
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Instant noodles are a type of processed food that is low in nutritional value and high in sodium, fat, and preservatives. Not only does eating instant noodles regularly raise your risk for obesity, heart disease, and other chronic illnesses, but the wax coating on them may also contain toxic chemicals.
If you’re craving noodles, opt for whole-grain types instead. Whole-grain noodles are higher in fiber, vitamins, and minerals than instant noodles and are a much healthier option.
White bread is a popular and convenient type of bread, but it’s also a processed food you should avoid if you care about your health. White bread is made from refined grains stripped of fiber and other nutrients. Eating white bread can heighten your risk for weight gain, diabetes, and other health issues.
Whole-grain bread is a much healthier option than white bread. Whole-grain bread contains fiber and other essential vitamins and minerals that benefit your health.
This article was produced on Health Makes You.