13 Prepackaged & Processed Foods to Avoid
Last Updated on : December 18 2022
In our crazy, hectic lives, we look for shortcuts everywhere—even when it comes to food. We know prepackaged, processed foods are not healthy eating options. But we grab them for the sheer convenience of it.
Although often delicious to eat, prepackaged foods do more harm to your health than you realize.
Foods that are pre-packed or processed contain high amounts of sodium, MSG, and artificial colors and are low in fiber and nutrients. And the cans or packages that these foods come in may also contain harmful ingredients.
In our quest to protect our health (and remain the sexy beings we are), we've listed out 13 processed food items to avoid at all costs.
1. Breakfast Cereals - Most cereals contain high amounts of sugar, additives, and genetically modified corn.
2. Low-Fat Salad Dressing - Low-fat dressings have high quantities of sodium, preservatives, and even sugar.
3. Canned Soup - Bisphenol-A (BPA) lines cans, a plastic chemical that can upset your body's endocrine system.
4. Prepacked Dried Fruits - Packaging companies add sugar and sulfur to the fruits to make them more suitable for prolonged stocking.
5. Prepacked Dried Vegetables - Vegetables lose most of their nutritional value during the drying process and in prepackaged form contain preservatives and high levels of salt and sugar.
6. Store-Bought Vegetable And Fruit Juices - Stick to the raw, organic, and unpressed versions.
7. Energy Drinks - Clean old drinking water is the best option.
8. Canned Beans - Beans come in cans often lined with BPA.
9. Protein Bars - Take some time to read the list of ingredients and nutrition information before buying.
10. Microwave Popcorn - The microwaveable version can contain a chemical called diacetyl, in addition to trans-fats and high levels of sodium.
11. Prepackaged Frozen Meals - Most pre-portioned frozen meals contain preservatives and more sodium than is healthy for a single sitting.
12. Flavored Yoghurt - Producers advertise flavored yogurts as fat-free, or full of fruit; however, they are packed full of sugar and artificial flavors.
13. Canned Fruit Cocktails - Fruit cocktails available in cans at the supermarket may seem delicious but come with a sugary syrup that adds calories and no nutritional value.
1. Breakfast Cereals
You are running late for work and head into the kitchen for a bite (who knows when you will get to eat next?). You grab a box of cereal, pour some milk, and gulp it down—this is the typical scenario in most homes.
However, did you know cereals contain high amounts of sugar, additives, and genetically modified corn? These are harmful to people of every age (particularly to children) and create health problems like diabetes, high blood pressure, and a lot more.
Stop buying cereals. Instead, opt for whey protein and organic eggs for a nutritious, yummy, and easy-to-make breakfast.
Or check out these 39 healthy breakfast ideas from nut butter, banana and chia seed toast, to peanut butter and strawberry jelly compote waffles.
Most things are better than prepackaged breakfast cereals!
2. Low-Fat Salad Dressings
Eating hearty salads is a simple way to keep trim; however, watch the salad dressing!
Low-fat or light salad dressings are tempting and available in a variety of yummy flavors.
But are you making the healthiest choice with these dressings? Unfortunately, the answer is ‘No.’ The truth is that low-fat salad dressings are full of ingredients that do more harm than good.
Take a look at the list of ingredients on the bottle—there are high quantities of sodium, preservatives, and sugar.
In many instances, a full-fat salad dressing is better for you because the fat helps you absorb the nutrients in the salad. Plus, full fat is unlikely to have the added sodium, preservatives, and sugar that the low-fat dressing has.
Don't want full-fat dressing? Drizzle your salad veggies with balsamic vinegar or extra-virgin olive oil.
3. Canned Soup
Although a convenient meal option, canned soups contain high levels of MSG, additives, salt, and several genetically-modified ingredients.
Even the low-fat or reduced-sodium versions may make you feel bloated and tired, and lead to other health issues because of their high sodium content.
Additionally, some cans come with Bisphenol-A (BPA) in their lining. BPA is a plastic chemical that can upset your body’s endocrine system.
Home-made soups are your best bet.
Begin prepping for your soups on the weekend. Freeze and use throughout the week if you do not get time to cook regularly. Check out these seven easy prep meal ideas for healthy eating during the week.
4. Prepacked Dried Fruits
Yummy to eat, easy to store, and readily available—dried fruits are generally no more unhealthy than eating the raw fruit itself. Although they lack as much vitamin C as natural fruits, they are still more nutritious than chocolate, candy, or potato chips.
However, they are on this list of processed foods to avoid because some varieties contain added sugar and sulfur needed for prolonged stocking on store shelves.
Additionally, we have a nasty habit of overconsuming these little treats adding excess sugar and unnecessary calories to our diets. The candied varieties are a no-no under all circumstances.
The best way to eat fruits is fresh. Fresh fruit has fewer calories, more nutrients, and keeps you satiated for longer. To make fresh fruit more convenient, try freezing it to enjoy at a later time or when on the go.
If you're stuck with dried fruits, check the label and go for organic versions.
5. Prepacked Dried Vegetables
Similar to dried fruits, dried veggies are available at many grocery stores. They are easy to work with and provide a nice crunch to dishes.
However, vegetables lose most of their nutritional value during the drying process and in prepackaged form contain preservatives and high levels of salt and sugar.
We don't want to give these too bad a rap because some varieties are better snacks than potato chips or chocolates, and can be good alternatives to the raw vegetables.
However, check labels and try organic dried fruits first. Avoid the varieties designed for snacking, like salted or sweet vegetable chips.
Don't add prepacked or processed dried veggies to your shopping cart. Instead, try nutritious sunflower seeds as toppings for your salads and other dishes. Or make veggie chips to use when needed.
6. Store-Bought Vegetable and Fruit Juices
Juices are a healthy beverage, but unless you are juicing the fruits or vegetables yourself, they may not be an excellent choice.
Pre-packaged and processed juices fare low on nutritional content and high on fructose and plain sugars.
Do not fall for labels that say "100 percent juice." Check whether they are made from concentrate as these are not the best choices.
Stick to raw, organic, and unprocessed versions to derive maximum health benefits from a juice.
Juicing carries over most of the nutrients from the fresh fruit or veggie; however, it loses the healthy fiber. Try a blend instead of a juice to retain the texture and to help you feel full too.
It's easy to juice more fruit than you would eat whole, so watch your juice intake. Drinking too much will overload you with sugars, without any of the nutrient value.
Watching your juice intake is essential. Can you eat six oranges at a single sitting? No. But can you drink the juice of six oranges in a single tumbler? Yes, quite quickly, leaving you with a sizeable unhealthy dose of fructose.
7. Energy Drinks
The chances are that you already know about this one, but are guilty of ignoring the health consequences. Advertisements for energy drinks trick you into believing they are right for your body, but the fact is that they are not.
Many energy drink companies have different strategies to sidestep the caffeine content guidelines of the FDA. However, to keep yourself well-hydrated and healthy, clean old drinking water is the best option.
To gain energy, consume more raw fruits, and keep apples within reach.
8. Canned Beans
Canned beans simplify life, but they are full of health concerns.
Similar to soup, beans come in cans that may be lined with BPA, possibly tainting your food.
Additionally, whether baked or in different flavors, they can contain high amounts of sugar, additives, and sodium—things you need to avoid.
Beans are food that is high in fiber and protein, so incorporate them into your diet. But only when you prepare them at home, or when you are sure the canned variety you choose is safe. Check labels and do your research on the internet.
9. Protein Bars
Manufacturers market proteins bars as healthy. However, they are often filled with processed foods and artificial ingredients and packed with calories. The fact is that protein bars are not always a healthy choice.
The answer is to check the label carefully.
Avoid bars with too many calories, added sugars, and preservatives. Thirty grams of sugar in a protein bar is typical but is far too much. There are 4g in a teaspoon, so 30 grams is nearly eight teaspoonfuls of sugar.
If you're looking for protein content, find those that have whey protein, brown rice, or hemp. These are better sources of protein than soy, for example.
So if you absolutely must have a protein bar, check the label, go for organic or make them yourself.
10. Microwave Popcorn
Popcorn cannot possibly be bad for health.
Rather than a healthy snack, prepackaged microwaveable popcorn has a few health risks.
It contains a chemical called diacetyl, a buttery flavoring that is potentially dangerous to inhale, in addition to trans-fats and high levels of sodium.
Other hazardous substances are in the packaging. These stop the oil or grease from leaking through the packet.
The best way to enjoy popcorn is to pop organic ones on the stove at home and use nutritious flavoring like Himalayan pink salt.
11. Prepackaged Frozen Meals
Prepackaged frozen meals are easy go-to dinners after a long day. They come in a variety of flavors from cheesy pasta to meat and potatoes. Many are portion sized and sold as diet-friendly.
However, being lazy comes at a cost to your health.
Most pre-portioned frozen meals contain preservatives and more sodium than is healthy for a single sitting.
Levels between 700mg and 1500mg of sodium are typical in these foods, almost two-thirds of your recommended daily intake.
Additionally, pre-portioned diet-friendly meals often contain too few calories for your nutritional needs.
Rather than wasting money on these dinners, plan. Cook in bulk over the weekend and have home-made, nutritious frozen food available every day during your regular workweek. We've some great ideas.
12. Flavored Yogurt
Yogurt is delicious and has numerous health benefits if chosen wisely.
Probiotics in the food are right for your bacterial flora, and aid in nutrient absorption. Natural and live yogurts without artificial preservatives or flavors provide the most significant benefits.
Producers advertise flavored yogurts as fat-free, or full of fruit; however, they are packed full of sugar and artificial flavors. These additives are harmful to our health, linked to obesity and respiratory or gastrointestinal problems.
We recommend going for natural Greek yogurt flavored with some honey.
Natural avoids all the chemical and sugar content issues in flavored yogurt. And it still provides the health benefits of the probiotics contained inside.
13. Canned Fruit Cocktails
Fruits are healthy, so why does a fruit cocktail feature on the list of foods to avoid?
It is because fruit cocktails available in cans at the supermarket may seem delicious, but come with a sugary syrup that adds calories and no nutritional value.
Instead, look for fruit canned without the syrup. Read labels carefully to ensure there is no added sugar or preservatives.
So next time, ditch the sugary canned cocktail and go for a piece of fresh fruit instead.
Food is your body’s fuel, so give it the best you can.
Avoid unhealthy, prepackaged, or processed food full of preservatives, chemicals, sodium, and sugars. Read labels carefully and educate yourself more entirely about what is healthy or not. Use the 13 foods above as your starting point.
Wherever possible, opt for healthy home-cooked or fresh meals instead. Prepare food in advance and plan your days to provide the time to eat correctly. Reduce your dependency on fast, easy to prepare prepackaged food for a healthier body, mind, and soul.
Eating healthy is sexy girls.
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Frequently Asked Questions
Why are prepackaged or processed foods bad for you?
Processed foods are foods altered from their natural state in some way, such as by being cooked, canned, frozen, or packaged. While some processed foods can be part of a healthy diet, many are high in added sugars, unhealthy fats, and sodium and low in nutrients.
Here are a few reasons why processed foods may be bad for you:
- High in added sugars and unhealthy fats: Many processed foods are high in added sugars and unhealthy fats, such as saturated and trans fats, which can contribute to weight gain, heart disease, and other health problems.
- Low in nutrients: Many processed foods are low in essential nutrients, such as fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Instead, they are often high in empty calories that provide little nutritional value.
- High in sodium: Many processed foods are also high in sodium, which can contribute to high blood pressure and an increased risk of heart disease.
- Can be addictive: Some processed foods contain ingredients, such as sugar and salt, that can be addictive, leading to overconsumption and weight gain.
- May contain harmful additives: Processed foods may also contain additives, such as artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives, which can harm your health.
It's important to note that not all processed foods are bad for you, and some can be part of a healthy diet. However, it's essential to be mindful of the types of processed foods you consume and try to limit your intake of those high in added sugars, unhealthy fats, and sodium, and low in nutrients. Instead, aim to include a variety of whole, unprocessed foods in your diet for optimal health.
What happens when you stop eating processed foods?
Switching from a diet high in processed foods to one made up of whole, unprocessed foods can have several benefits for your health. Here are a few potential effects of stopping the consumption of processed foods:
- Weight loss: If you consume many processed foods, cutting them out of your diet may lead to weight loss. Many processed foods are high in calories, added sugars, and unhealthy fats, which can contribute to weight gain. Consuming more unprocessed options may help you shed excess pounds.
- Improved blood pressure and cholesterol levels: Processed foods are often high in sodium, which can contribute to high blood pressure. Cutting these foods out of your diet may help lower your blood pressure. In addition, replacing processed foods with whole foods may help improve your cholesterol levels.
- Increased intake of nutrients: Whole, unprocessed foods are typically rich in nutrients, such as fiber, vitamins, and minerals, which can be lacking in processed foods. Incorporating more unprocessed foods into your diet may help improve your overall nutrient intake.
- Improved digestion: Whole, unprocessed foods are often high in fiber, which can help improve digestion and prevent constipation.
- Reduced risk of chronic diseases: Eating a diet high in processed foods has been linked to an increased risk of chronic diseases, such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and certain types of cancer. Eating more unprocessed options may help reduce your risk of these diseases.
It's important to note that switching to a diet mainly of whole and unprocessed foods may require some planning and preparation. However, the potential benefits to your health make it well worth the effort. If you are considering making this type of change to your diet, please speak with a healthcare provider or a registered dietitian for personalized advice.
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