What Healthy Eating Looks Like (Part 2)
Hello again! The previous post addressed making simple choices to improve your nutrition on a daily basis. I think an important concept to have when shopping is that of processed foods, what it means, what low vs high means as well. Processed food means a food has been altered from its original state. Commonly, this it to alter the taste, enable various forms of packaging or increase its shelf life. Food can also be processed for safety reasons, an example is milk which is processed to rid of harmful bacteria.
Low processed foods contain the food with a few additional ingredients for taste, safety or shelf life. High processed food generally contain several ingredients, many not found in foods naturally. It is difficult to remove all processed food but certainly we can avoid them and focus on low processed when we do make a choice.
I have a few examples below: The first peanut butter (Peanut Butter label #1) has added sugar, oils and molasses which is not necessary (doesn’t make it safer or tastier).
The second (Peanut Butter Label #2) has peanuts and salt. Note the difference in salt (sodium) and that the less processed one in this case has more calories. The lower calorie doesn’t make the first one healthier.
Another example is yogurt, which we all think of as healthy. This one is Plain Greek yogurt (low processed):
This one is the same yogurt but strawberry flavored:
Note the addition of several ingredients, increasing the carbohydrates and calories. You can take the plain one and add fresh strawberries and honey or agave to sweeten which will eliminate all those other ingredients.
Avoidance of high processed foods is extremely important and most of us think of cold cuts, TV dinners etc. However here is a list of what is found in Cheerios: second AND third ingredient is corn starch.
Here is another example: the first label (Broccoli label #1) is plain broccoli, the ingredient is simple. To entice the consumer a “seasoned” broccoli is available as well (Broccoli label #2), look at the additional amount of ingredients as well as sodium:
So while it is so important to eat food that you buy raw and cook, when you are selecting processed foods, read the labels and focus on the lower processed foods. You can add your own fresh herbs, sugar or even salt and it will still be healthier than purchasing highly processed foods.
Thanks for reading and Happy New Year!
Dr. Dina Goytia-Leos