Daily Mirror

It is necessary to ensure that intake of a nutritionally balanced diet is not compromised by an unwise intake of unhealthy processed convenience foods

Are processed foods really nutrient deficient? Answers to some frequently asked questions on processed foods.. What exactly are processed foods? Processed foods, in simple words, are those subjected to technological modifications to preserve or convert into readyto-eat foods, eliminating laborious procedures. For example, ready mixes, dehydrated foods, pasta products, canned foods, confectioneries, bakery foods, dairy products…

Why are they under the scanner?

There is an increased demand for processed, ready-to-eat or convenience foods because of lifestyle changes. Consumers are looking for foods that need less prepara-and tion time. With obesity and associated noncommunicable diseases like diabetes, hypertension and cardiovascular diseases on the rise, processed foods are under the scanner.

Are all processed foods unhealthy?

Not all processed foods are necessarily devoid of nutrients. Unhealthy or ‘junk’ foods are those that contain little or no proteins, vitamins or minerals but are rich in salt, sugars, fats and are high in energy (calories). Therefore, these are called unhealthy or junk, even if it is unprocessed.

Are there any alternatives?

Traditional breakfast items are richer sources of nutrients as they combine different groups of nutrients. Food items like chips, candies, chocolates, which are popular among children, lack important nutrients and provide only empty calories. They also contain artificial colours and other additives.

Also remember processed vegetables and fruit-based foods cannot be equated with fresh vegetables and fruits. Apart from less nutrients, such processed foods also contain various additives that, if consumed beyond permissible limits, may have adverse effects on health.

Thus, consumption of certain processed foods not only affects intake of nutrients, but also increases the risk of exposure to various chemical additives. Therefore, it is necessary to ensure that intake of a nutritionally balanced diet is not compromised by an unwise intake of unhealthy processed and convenience foods.

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