We all know it is better to skip the drive-thru at fast food restaurants and cook healthy meals at home. Furthermore, you may have heard that when shopping at the local market, you should stick to the perimeter of the store. This is where you find nutritious whole foods like produce, fish, meats, milk, and eggs. The inner aisles house the pre-packaged and heavily processed items that contain the additives, preservatives, sugar, and sodium that have little nutritive value and can actually be harmful to your health. Ultra-processed foods are the ones that are the most chemically altered and can be the most dangerous to your body.
14. Definition of Processed and Ultra-Processed Foods
Most foods go through some type of processing before they hit your refrigerator or pantry. Some are minimally processed, such as the cutting, washing, and bagging of produce. Others are lightly processed by adding oil, sugar, or spices. Such foods include cheese, canned tuna, or canned beans. These items retain their vitamins and minerals without a heavy addition of chemicals. However, ultra-processed foods are ones that go through multiple processes before reaching your table and are high in sugar, salt, unhealthy fats, and harmful chemicals. These are the items to avoid.
The bad news for bacon lovers is that consuming this highly processed meat could shorten your life. Bacon is not only high in sodium and saturated fats, but it also contains nitrates or nitrites. These chemicals are added to bacon and other smoked or processed meats as preservatives. Unfortunately, these processed meats are associated with diseases such as heart disease, kidney disease, and cancer. The American Cancer Society reports that four slices of bacon per day can raise the risk of colon cancer by as much as 18%.