Nei Jing Center of Chinese Medicine Jerusalem defines processed foods as any raw ingredients which have undergone physical or chemical transformations into a food product. Food processing has become an overwhelming component of our society and culture today. We are surrounded by various forms, most of which go unnoticed. It is important to become aware of how a large quantity of the products can negatively affect the body, and what tools can be used to steer clear of products which are most detrimental.
Differentiate Between Heavily Processed Foods and Minimally Processed Foods
Heavily Processed: Foods stripped of nutritional benefits, no longer in its original form (donuts, hot dogs, chips, microwave-ready meals).
Moderately Processed: Foods which have been fortified with beneficial nutrients, raw ingredients have been transformed into a new product (pasta sauces, cake mixes, cereals, yogurts).
Minimally Processed: Foods which have been preserved to prevent bacterial growth, pre-prepared to promote convenience (frozen fruits and vegetables, hard-boiled eggs, canned tuna/beans, pickled vegetables, raw nut butters).
Negative Effects of Processed Foods:
– Additional added sugars to improve taste and texture
– High amounts of sodium in order to preserve and extend shelf life of foods
– Added fats to extend shelf-life, while providing body to the food products
– Other additional food additives such as food coloring, flavorings, flavor enhancers, and thickeners which can be unrecognizable by the body
– Promotes the risk of contamination if equipment is not cleaned and sanitized thoroughly
– Decrease of nutritional value due to heated environments (e.g. vitamin C)
How to Avoid Heavily Processed Foods Recommended by Nei Jing Center of Chinese Medicine Jerusalem:
– Read the ingredient label on packages; products which are difficult to pronounce or contain more than 5 ingredients should be re-considered
– Avoid prepackaged items (boxed, bagged, canned)
– Shop the circumference of grocery stores, as the middle-shelved section contains the more moderately/heavily processed foods
– Stray away from the "white" products (white flour, white breads, white rice) which have been stripped of most nutrients through bleaching and enriching
– Ingredients ending with "ose" refers to added sugars, and should be avoided