Cold cuts, white bread, mayonnaise, potato chips, and an ice-cold soda. If this sounds like your lunch, you just might want to rethink what you’re eating. These classic favorites and other processed foods are brimming with hidden additives that have an immediate ill effect on your health, and that over time, will almost certainly contribute to disease.
The Processed Food Trap
What’s the big deal? After all, grocery stores, delis, and restaurants everywhere offer these popular, mostly inexpensive options. The short answer: processed foods are loaded with harmful trans-fats, cholesterol, hidden sugar from the very worst sources imaginable, and more. They’re often the final resting place for the meat industry’s byproducts such as snouts, esophagi, ears, genitals, and other nasty bits. In America and some other countries, many processed foods contain chemicals that have been banned in Europe because of the dangers they present. Some examples:
- Popular sodas like Fanta and Mountain dew contain flame retardeants.
- One of the additives found in Pop-Tarts and similar processed baked goods is also used in antifreeze.
- Many foods contain bleaches, colors, and preservatives; just a small sampling of some of the 6,000 chemicals that are used in food processing.
Seizures, birth defects, growth problems, and schizophrenia are among the many problems these additives can cause. Some synthetic chemicals have carcinogenic properties, and eating them frequently enough can increase your cancer risk. In fact, a 7-year study conducted by the University of Hawaii showed that of 200,000 people studied, those who ate the most processed meat (cold cuts, hot dogs, etc.) were at a 67 percent higher risk of pancreatic cancer than those participants who avoided these products.
Obesity is another issue with a direct link to heavily processed foods. Why? To improve taste, these foods are typically higher in fat, sugar, and salt than homemade versions. At the same time, they are far lower in nutrients and fiber. According to the World Health Organization, there is a direct link between processed foods and the worldwide spike in chronic disease and obesity.
Heart disease is another issue faced by people who consume a diet high in processed foods. Trans-fatty acids, which increase dangerous cholesterol (LDL) and decrease good cholesterol (HDL) play a direct role.
Why are these additives allowed? According to the Food and Drug Administration, these chemicals are “safe” in small doses. But does the agency check up on every ingredient in every kind of processed food on the market? Absolutely not! It’s up to individual companies to determine whether the ingredients they add to their products require government approval. As a result, there are thousands of products on supermarket shelves that have never been investigated by the FDA. All of them are wrapped in colorful packaging, decorated with creative graphics, and given catchy names that make them seem irresistible.
Why Choose Natural Foods?
Now that you know more about how processed foods cause harm, it’s time for a change. Increase the amount of natural, unprocessed food in your daily diet, and cut things that come in packages that list unpronounceable chemicals among their ingredients. Try it for even a week, and you’ll notice that you feel and look better.