We are often told removing processed food from our everyday diet has many health benefits. Many are unsure if diet foods are considered processed and how much processed food is considered unhealthy. Weight loss programs that include Optifast meal replacements are an excellent choice in supporting your weight loss goals.
Choosing the right foods while dieting may not be that simple. Not all processed foods stare us in the face as unhealthy, but many are. Most of us think of processed foods as candy, pre-packed snacks, soda, and frozen foods such as pizza.
Many processed ingredients are “hidden” in many well-known diet foods we presume are healthy choices when dieting. A good example is frozen vegetables. Many pre-packaged frozen fruits and vegetables contain sugar, salt, and artificial flavorings that are added during the manufacturing process.
What is Processed Food?
Harvard released a detailed article on processed food and their relation to health where they state the USDA’s definition of processed food. They define it as a consumable product that has undergone any changes to its natural state—that is, any raw agricultural commodity subjected to washing, cleaning, milling, cutting, chopping, heating, pasteurizing, blanching, cooking, canning, freezing, drying, dehydrating, mixing, packaging, or other procedures that alter the food from its natural state.
Not all of us are aware of the negative impact many processed ingredients have on our diet, especially in foods labeled as low fat or sugar-free found at your local grocers. Many processed over the counter diet foods may have adverse effects on your overall health. The challenge is that processed foods are available pretty much everywhere. Deciding what labeled diet products to avoid in comparison to which ones are considered healthy poses issues for many.
For example, frozen creamed spinach may have soy as an additive. Soy is called a bulking agent and does turn otherwise healthy food into processed food. Also, for many, soy can cause inflammation and is a common culprit to raising havoc on the digestive system.
Some foods are processed to maintain their ultimate nutritional value. Commonly processed canned food like tuna, vegetables, and fruits typically contain fewer additives. Some may not even contain any additives at all. However, other foods that we consider natural such as bread, cakes, and jarred sauces, are often packed with added sugar, salt, and food additives.
Minimally processed foods are often not thought of as being classified as processed as they don’t require much alteration. Roasted nuts, coffee beans, bagged fresh spinach, and pre-cut vegetables are examples of minimally processed foods.
The Health Benefits of Cutting Down on Processed Foods
There is no doubt a multitude of benefits to cutting out processed food to help you lose weight. It is not as easy of a task as you’d think due to the fact many food manufacturers still “sneak in” unhealthy ingredients.
The question dieters want to know is, do you have to cut out all processed foods from your diet to successfully lose weight? The answer is no. You don’t have to cut out all processed foods to lose weight. It’s important to know how to choose the right ingredients and products to support your diet goals.
Certified medical grade meal replacement products, including Optifast meal replacement and Nutrimed, each go through a food production process; however, both maintain nutritional integrity and are trusted by medical weight loss doctors to support healthy weight loss.
To support healthy weight loss, you don’t need to cut out all processed foods. You can still enjoy what is known as low risk processed foods. Learning how to read nutritional labels properly is essential in maintaining balanced, nutrient-rich diet plans.
Are you surprised about some of the facts about processed foods we have given you so far?
At Med-Fit Medical Weight Loss Clinic in Denver, CO, many of our clients enjoy the benefits of Optifast meal replacement products. They are shocked when they discover even frozen fruits and vegetables are considered processed.
It is a common assumption that processed food is only pre-packaged, frozen, and junk food such as chips and candy. Yet, the more we educate ourselves on understanding there is more to processed food than meets the eye and not all processed food is considered harmful for you.
Ingredients of Healthy Processed Food Options
- Foods containing additionally fortified vitamins help us to improve our health and manage our weight better. Good examples of such food include certain cereals, natural breads, and oatmeal.
- Fortified vitamins include B-12, iron, and folic acid. Each help us to stay healthy. You are likely to come across Brewer’s yeast. This is a natural compound packed with healthy B vitamins.
- Optifast meal replacement products are packed with natural goodness, rich in vitamins and nutrients. Medically endorsed meal replacement products like Optifast and Nutrimed provide optimal benefit in supporting healthy weight loss.
Fat in the Diet
- A sustainable diet includes healthy fats. Fat helps our body stay healthy and are converted into other nutritional elements during the digestive process.
- Not all fats are healthy so beware. Common fats to avoid while maintaining a healthy diet include trans fats and saturated fats. These fats are typically found in over-processed foods. We can’t emphasize enough the importance in understanding how to read nutrition labels.
Added Sugars in Processed Foods
Yes, it is true that sugar is commonly added to processed food to increase the flavor. Many times manufactured sugar alternatives are used as an inexpensive solution to enhance the taste. When it comes to added sugar, you should pay attention to processed diet foods marked as low-fat or fat-free. Most of these products are low in fat, but they are packed full of hidden sugars.
Although it may not say sugar on the nutritional label, an alternative ingredient like agave is still sugar even though manufacturers like to call it a “natural additive.”
High Salt in Processed Foods
Sadly, 70% of sodium consumption comes from eating processed food and restaurant foods. It is estimated the average American eats an astonishing 2,300 mg salt per day. That is more or less a tablespoon of salt!
A high level of salt in food leads to water retention and can, in the long run, cause high blood pressure. Canned foods are often high in sodium. Take the time to read nutritional labels on canned, processed foods, including tuna and vegetables. When navigating processed food options, knowing what ingredients to look for and to avoid will help you in selecting the right diet food and snacks to eat for successful weight loss.
Where Can I Find Healthy Processed Foods?
Finding quality, nutrient-rich, meal replacement products like Optifast can be found locally in Denver at our Med-Fit Medical Weight Loss Clinic. Our physician-supervised weight loss programs include nutrition education and medical-grade meal replacement programs to support rapid, healthy weight loss.
We invite you to schedule your private consultation with one of our certified nutritionists to learn more about Optifast meal replacement products, discover the most optimal foods for your body while dieting, and help you keep the weight off. Call us today at (303) 321-0023 or schedule a personal consultation.