In recent decades the consumption of processed foods has exploded, especially in developed countries. Foods that are very harmful to the body as a whole since they have a very poor nutritional value, and are largely composed of sugars, vegetable oils, trans fats, empty calories …
When it comes to processed foods, it refers to the fact that they are not in their natural state, but have gone through a certain process that has modified their appearance and their amount of nutrients .
Thus, it is interesting to know what are the true dangers that processed foods have for health, both physically and mentally. The truth is that both in the medium and in the long term these can be very harmful.
The dangers of processed foods for health
In the following points we point out in detail what are the main dangers of processed foods and why they are harmful to health.
1) They contain too much sugar and fructose
Processed foods are generally high in fructose ; that is, they provide a large amount of sugars to the body. Empty calories that do not provide any type of nutrient and that simply provide energy.
Sugar has very harmful effects on health, especially in certain population groups such as children or the elderly. On the one hand, it increases the body’s resistance to insulin . On the other hand, it increases cholesterol levels in the body. And finally, it favors the accumulation of fat . Conditions that are directly related to certain disorders such as obesity or diabetes , among others.
2) They do not generate a feeling of satiety
Unlike healthy foods such as fruits or vegetables for example, processed foods do not generate the slightest feeling of fullness. Moreover, in some cases its chemical components generate the desire to eat more than the recommended amount , thus giving rise to health problems.
3) They hardly contain fiber
Fiber is one of the most important nutrients for the proper functioning of the body as it promotes intestinal transit . However, during food processing they lose a high percentage of their natural fiber.
4) They are addictive
There have been cases of people addicted to processed foods; a situation very similar to that of those who are addicted to alcohol or drugs.
This is explained because during its consumption the dopamine released by the body takes control of the brain, stimulating it and generating the need to ingest increasing amounts of this type of food. In part, because of the monosodium glutamate that we talked about earlier.
5) Its refined carbohydrate content is high
One of the main health dangers of processed foods has to do with their high content of refined carbohydrates . While complex carbohydrates are beneficial to the body as a whole, refined carbohydrates are very harmful.
The reason is that they are digested very quickly, resulting in a sudden spike in blood glucose . In this way, once these foods have been digested and glucose levels have returned to their normal values, the desire to consume them is felt again.
6) They have a very low nutritional value
Natural foods provide a large number of properties and benefits to the body, so that they are very beneficial for its functioning.
However, in the case of processed foods, a large number of artificial nutrients are added to compensate for those that have been lost during processing. However, in no case are they a correct substitute since the body is not able to absorb them properly.
7) They contain a large amount of fat
If processed foods are characterized by something, it is because they contain a large amount of trans fats , which cause inflammation in the body, at the same time that they favor the aging of both the skin and the cells.
8) They have a high percentage of chemical additives
Another characteristic of processed foods is the large amount of chemical additives they contain. Some of the most common are flavorings ; substances that provide a certain flavor to food, and that in many cases are what generate addiction to them.
Also the preservatives so that the food last intact a longer period of time. And, of course, the colorants ; they are widely used to give them a more eye-catching color and thus make them more palatable.
9) They provide too many calories
The consumption of processed foods is increasingly common in people of all ages. Thus, recent research has estimated that daily calorie intake has increased by 20% in recent decades.
10) Increase LDL cholesterol levels
And, finally, this type of food favors an increase in LDL cholesterol levels , which accumulates in the arteries. A situation that, if prolonged in time, can lead to coronary heart disease due to the obstruction of the arteries.
Diseases from processed foods
The consumption of processed foods continuously over time can lead to different health disorders, the most common being those that we point out below.
One of the most direct causes of the consumption of this type of food, both in children and adults, is obesity. This is precisely one of the main diseases of the 21st century, with alarming figures in some countries such as the United States.
Obesity, in addition to damaging the quality of life of those who suffer from it, can lead to many other disorders in the medium and long term, such as mobility problems or respiratory difficulties .
Processed foods greatly increase the levels of LDL cholesterol in the arteries. A high-risk situation since in case of obstruction of the arteries, serious disorders such as heart attacks can develop .
The consumption of this type of food also favors the premature aging of both the skin and the cells . Thus, the first signs of aging appear early, such as wrinkles or fine lines.
The most harmful processed foods
Below we have collected which are the processed foods that are most harmful to the body. Its consumption should be avoided in a healthy and balanced diet to minimize the risk of suffering physical and / or mental illnesses in the medium or long term.
- French fries: French fries are one of the most caloric foods out there. However, its nutritional value is very poor. They are characterized by having a very high salt content, as well as numerous preservatives. A continued and excessive consumption of potato chips can lead to certain disorders such as being overweight or cardiovascular diseases.
- Sugary cereals: Although whole grains are one of the most beneficial foods around, sugary ones should be avoided. The reason is its high content of sugars, so that they favor the development of diseases such as diabetes. In addition, they have a very high caloric intake.
- Hamburgers: meat hamburgers are also in many cases processed foods since they contain too much saturated fat and salt. To take care of your health, it is best to bet on the consumption of vegetarian burgers.
- Soft drinks : although hydration is key for the body to function properly, soft drinks are in no way recommended. They are made up of empty calories and do not provide any type of nutrient. They are high in sugar, so they increase blood glucose levels.
- Microwave popcorn: Although corn may seem like a very healthy product, the truth is that microwave popcorn is not so healthy. They have a large amount of trans fat, salt, and preservatives. In addition, certain brands include diacetyl in their formation, a substance that can cause damage to the respiratory system .
As we have pointed out, processed foods are very harmful to health, so it is advisable to avoid their consumption. Better to opt for a healthy and balanced diet , with seasonal vegetables and fruits, as well as lean meats, fish and whole grains.
Food plays a fundamental role in a person’s state of health, so it is essential to take maximum care of it. In addition, to lead a healthy lifestyle, it is advisable to practice physical exercise frequently; just spend 30 minutes a day walking for great results.
Hello Readers, I am Nikki Bella a Psychology student. I have always been concerned about human behavior and the mental processes that lead us to act and think the way we do. My collaboration as an editor in the psychology area of Well Being Pole has allowed me to investigate further and expand my knowledge in the field of mental health; I have also acquired great knowledge about physical health and well-being, two fundamental bases that are directly related and are part of all mental health.